How Paris became first-ever French title team on FIBA 3x3 World Tour
WUXI (China) - Paris (FRA) broke a long drought for French teams on the FIBA 3x3 World Tour with a historic title at the Wuxi Masters.
After their domination in men's and women's international competitions, we've been waiting patiently for hoops power France to make their mark on the World Tour.
For some time, Paris (FRA) has been flying the French flag and led by superstar Franck Seguela they appeared likely to capture the ultimate success on the big stage.
They announced themselves last year at the Utrecht Masters with a runners-up finish as Seguela and Paul Djoko announced themselves with dynamic performances.
Paris entered 2023 with high hopes and big expectations, which they've mostly fulfilled on the pro circuit highlighted by a stunning victory at the Bordeaux Challenger where Seguela outdueled Miami superstar Jimmer Fredette in an epic final.
But, strangely, Paris couldn't translate that form onto the World Tour, where they failed to reach Day 2 in 4 of 5 events.
There were concerns over them as critics lined up to suggest Paris couldn't handle the pressures of the big stage. But they regrouped and found their form heading into Wuxi, where they went on a run for the ages.
It all clicked for the Frenchmen in an unbeaten run, but it wasn't easy with the sixth seeds pushed to OT by Pirot (SRB) whose OG entertainer Dragan Bjelica rewound the clock with a triple-five.
But with the game on the line, Seguela stepped up to hit the Maurice Lacroix Buzzer Beater to foreshadow the heroics that lay ahead for him.
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They then edged dangerous Partizan (SRB) to emerge from Day One unscathed much to their relief after struggling to make the knockout stages previously on this season's World Tour.
Paris sensed their opportunity, but it wasn't going to be easy. They had to fight tooth and nail against Saitama ALPHAS EXE (JPN), but Seguela again was clutch when it mattered most.
Seguela was just heating up as he was a one man show in Paris' first semi-final on the World Tour 2023. Against Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL), the 26-year-old poured in a game-high 10 points as Paris edged the recent Mongolian champs.
It set up a blockbuster final with top-ranked Ub Huishan NE (SRB) standing in Paris' way to create history. Ub presented a formidable challenge, obviously, but even more so since they've had a long World Tour drought by their ridiculous standards.
Ub were hot favorites to reclaim the crown, but Paris had other ideas as they played the game of their lives. There had been a lot of hype over the battle between Seguela and top-ranked Strahinja Stojacic.
But Seguela was a man possessed as he outshone 'Doctor Strange' to make sure that in this game the half-court was his multiverse. He had a ridiculous 14 points and 5 rebounds compared to Stojacic's 2 points on 2 of 7 from the field.
It is hard to remember anyone outplaying 'Doctor Strange' so comprehensively, but it underlined his insane talent as - you guessed it - Seguela walked off with the MVP.
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After that statement, Seguela deserves to be rated among the very best players in 3x3 as he celebrated like it was Bastille Day.
He didn't do it alone with Djoko, Vincent Fauche and Jules Rambaut all playing key roles in a perfect team performance from Paris.
With the French curse now over, Paris will feel like the monkey is off their back and that spells trouble for opponents as the World Tour reaches the business end.