Amsterdam HiPRO back to their best at FIBA 3x3 Al Bidda Park Challenger 2023
MANAMA (Bahrain) - Led by superstar Worthy de Jong, Amsterdam HIPRO (NED) powered to their fourth title of the season at the FIBA 3x3 Al Bidda Park Challenger 2023.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Amsterdam HiPRO (NED)
They were: No.1 most points scored, best shooting value, most highlights and fewest points scored
Having not won since August, falling short in five straight events, Amsterdam HiPRO dominated with an unbeaten campaign.
They made a statement from the get go with a 22-5 beatdown of hosts Al Bidda EXPO 2023 (QAT) before edging Sansar MMC Energy (MGL).
The Dutch Masters have had trouble in the knockout stages this season, but not this time around as they owned Day Two. They easily beat Podgorica Kodio (MNE) before a tight semi-final win over Futian (CHN).
There was no stopping them in the final with Amsterdam rather easily handling rival Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL) to end a frustrating two-month drought.
No surprises who powered Amsterdam back to form. Worthy de Jong, of course, who put up typically big numbers in a MVP performance. He finished No.1 in points (42) and player value (43.6).
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The runner's up: Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL)
Much like Amsterdam, Antwerp TOPdesk had gone off the boil recently and fallen short in six straight events.
They were keen to make amends here, but suffered a shock OT loss to Manila Chooks (PHI) first up. They were shook by the Chooks but Antwerp rebounded quickly with a tight win over Utrecht (NED) to qualify for Day Two.
The brilliant Belgians made the most of a three-man Wuxi (CHN) in the quarters and then against shorthanded Ub Huishan NE (SRB), who were playing without a sub.
But Antwerp produced their best performance in two months to storm into the final only to fall short to Amsterdam.
Dazzling Donkor: Dennis Donkor is known as a defensive ace, but this dude can also light up on offense. He made Doha melt with a lights out shooting display to finish second in points (33) with his best showing being an explosive 11-point haul against Ub in the semis.
Donkor combined brilliantly with sniper Jonas Foerts, who had 29 points.
The Final: Amsterdam HiPRO 21-Antwerp TOPdesk 13
It's always special when teams from neighbors Netherlands and Belgium square off in sports and Amsterdam and Antwerp have built a strong rivalry in recent years.
Both teams were desperate for a W but de Jong continued his hot form by nailing the two-piece to open the scoring. He then slithered into the lane for the tough layup but Vic Van Oosterwyck went bang, bang to level the scores.
It looked set for a thriller with the teams going bucket for bucket until de Jong took over with a couple of dunks to ignite Amsterdam.
Antwerp went cold at the wrong time as de Jong finished them off with five straight points to cap his masterpiece of 12 points, 5 rebounds and 9 highlights as Amsterdam returned to their brilliant best.
The reward: Three tickets to the Manama Masters
Amsterdam HiPRO, Antwerp TOPdesk and Ub Huishan NE received tickets and joined already qualified Partizan, San Juan, Futian, Hangzhou and Jeddah as the teams qualified to the Manama Masters on November 16-17.
1. Amsterdam HiPRO (NED)
2. Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL)
3. Ub Huishan NE (SRB)
4. Futian (CHN)
5. Wuxi (CHN)
1. Worthy de Jong (Amsterdam HiPRO, NED) 42 pts
2. Dennis Donkor (Antwerp TOPdesk, BEL) 33 pts
3. Jonas Foerts (Antwerp TOPdesk, BEL) 29 pts
4. Strahinja Stojacic (Ub Huishan NE, SRB) 29 pts
5. Marko Brankovic (Ub Huishan NE, SRB) 28 pts
- It doesn't actually happen too often these days, but the top four seeds made it to the semis.
- Top-ranked player Strahinja Stojacic once again starred and his masterpiece was a triple-five of 8 points, 6 rebounds and 6 highlights against Antwerp TOPdesk.
- Manila Chooks' Tosh Sesay was unstoppable in their upset of Antwerp with 7 points 12 rebounds and the buzzer beater.