Players to watch at FIBA 3x3 World Tour Manila Masters 2023

MANILA (Philippines) - Some of the world's best players can't wait to put on a show in front of the famously loud Filipino fans at the Manila Masters on May 20-21.

Here are the top players you just have to watch as the World Tour hits the Philippines' capital for the second straight year. 

Strahinja Stojacic (Ub Huishan NE)

'Doctor Strange' finished 2022 as undisputedly the best player in the world and nothing has changed in the new season after his MVP performance at the Utsunomiya Opener

The 30-year-old made an early season statement to lead  Ub Huishan NE's title defence with a game-high 9 points in the final against Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL). 

Stojacic was unstoppable throughout Ub's unbeaten campaign to finish top in player value (42.7), scoring (39), highlights (33) and key assists (10). 

And he continues to form a deadly one-two punch with legendary Dejan Majstorovic, who returns to Manila as the reigning MVP.

Stojacic is already proving that he has no desire to relinquish his crown any time soon. 


Miroslav Pasajlic (Riga)

Riga's big off-season signing was ex-Liman star Miroslav Pasajlic, who now makes his World Tour debut for his new team.

This 28-year-old bull is explosive and a ball wizard, but perhaps was underrated in Liman's star-studded team. He has a chance to break out with traditional power Riga and help keep them among the very best teams in the business. 

Oh, almost forgot, Pasajlic is a deadly sniper so don't leave this former Masters and Europe Cup MVP open. 


Worthy de Jong (Amsterdam HiPRO)

This excitement machine has not disappointed after crossing from Utrecht to compatriots Amsterdam HiPRO (NED). 

The flying Dutchman in Utsunomiya scored 26 points from just 3 games and also finished second in highlights (16), where he dazzled with insane shot-making and ridiculous dunks. 

They were impressive stats for de Jong, who was developing chemistry with his new teammates as Amsterdam fell in the quarters.

With more game time together, de Jong is set to go up another level and you just know he's going to be a fan favorite for the crazy Filipino fans. 

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Karlis Lasmanis/Nauris Miezis (Beijing)

New colors, same superheroes. There has been a lot of interest over 'Batman' and 'Robin's' move from Riga to Beijing (CHN), but these partners-in-crime issued a reminder that they remain the deadliest duo around. 

Lasmanis claimed MVP and had plenty of support from sidekick Miezis as Beijing claimed the FIBA 3x3 Shenzhen Challenger ahead of Manila. 

These caped crusaders love playing in the Philippines having led Riga to glory last year at the Cebu Masters with a clutch Miezis winning the MVP. 

Expect them to be on their A-Game in their World Tour debuts for new power Beijing. 

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Anand Ariunbold (Sansar MMC Energy)

How's your 2023 so far? Probably not as good as 26-year-old Anand Ariunbold, who is making the leap to superstardom before our eyes. 

We knew this was coming, but it's still been thrilling to see Ariunbold live up to the hype.

He hit the clutch shot to clinch Mongolia's title at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023 then continued his heat check to finish second in scoring (34) in Utsunomiya as Sansar stormed to the semis. 

Ariunbold will look to continue his love affair with Manila having started his rise 12 months ago there with 30 points in Sansar's semi-final run. 

He might be the most exciting young player in Manila - though there is plenty of competition with San Juan's 24-year-old Luis Cuascut more hyped than Fast X

The next step is for Ariunbold to lead Sansar to Masters glory and don't be shocked if he reaches his goal. 

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Thibaut Vervoort (Futian)

This brilliant Belgian makes his World Tour debut for Futian (CHN) and it's our first opportunity on the big stage to watch him combine with former Amsterdam star Dimeo van der Horst. 

They were brilliant together first up at the FIBA 3x3 Ulaanbaatar Super Quest combining for 65 points in Futian's runners-up performance. 

The duo want to be the best in the world and ex-Antwerp star Vervoort has his sights on being the No.1 player in the world.

There is no reason he can't achieve that with the 25-year-old able to splash from deep, but he can also get to the rim whenever he pleases. 

He will be determined to make up for a disappointing showing in Antwerp's shock early exit last year in Manilla to prove to the local fans why he's universally known as 'Must See TV'. 


Mac Tallo (Manila Chooks

We saved this dude for last because Mac Tallo is the fan favorite in Manila for a reason.

The 29-year-old is seemingly created in a 3x3 lab because he has more tricks than David Blaine and no one is safe from embarrassment - not even the game's best Stojacic after Tallo almost broke his ankles 12 months ago.

He always adds some sauce in front of his beloved fans and is probably the quickest player in Manila - though Utsunomiya BREX EXE's speedster Yosuke Saito has a case. 

If you're in attendance you might need ear plugs because when 'Spida' is at his deadliest the roof is in danger of being blown away from all the hollering. 

We can't wait to see this human highlight reel put on a show in front of the home fans.