Superstar Vervoort to face former team Antwerp at FIBA 3x3 Shenzhen Challenger 2023

SHENZHEN (China) - No.1 seed Antwerp TopDesk (BEL) will be eyeing a confidence boosting title in the first FIBA 3x3 Challenger event of 2023 at Shenzhen as they battle former star Thibaut Vervoort in a Day One blockbuster. 

In a loaded field, 16 teams will be hoping to make a statement while fighting for the prized two tickets available for the first-ever Macau Masters, which is the fourth stop on this year's FIBA 3x3 World Tour. 

Let's preview all the action in the first opportunity to watch several of these new-look teams. 

The Favorites 

There was a lot of anticipation over how Antwerp will go without Vervoort this year. Life without 'Must See TV' started well for these brilliant Belgians who showed off their depth of talent with a runners-up performance at the Utsunomiya Opener

Dennis Donkor was a menace on D while young star Caspar Augustijnen dominated around the rim to prove Antwerp are still one of the best in the business. 

They deserve top billing in Shenzhen and for the first time will face Vervoort in a much-hyped Pool A clash against Futian (CHN).

This Chinese team have loaded up by recruiting Vervoort and fellow scoring machine Dimeo van der Horst formerly of Amsterdam. 

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The deadly duo proved an instant hit with a combined 65 points to lead Futian to a runners-up finish at the FIBA 3x3 Ulaanbaatar Super Quest 2023. 

It is also important preparation for Futian and a chance to develop more chemistry ahead of the Manila Masters on May 20-21. 

Pool A just has to be the 'Group of Death' because Paris (FRA) are also a chance of going all the way after a strong run late last season with Franck Seguela proving to be a walking bucket. 

Another Chinese team meaning business in 2023 is Beijing (CHN), who signed former Riga (LAT) superheroes Karlis Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis.

There will be another reunion with 'Batman' and 'Robin' squaring off against Riga and their fellow gold medallists Edgars Krumins and Agnis Cavars in a massive Pool B clash. 

No.2 seed Riga were a late scratching in Utsunomiya but will be keen to unleash their new team with all eyes on former Liman star Miroslav Pasajlic, who has a chance to take his game to another level. 

The Field

As stated above, this is a monster draw and several teams will rightly argue that they belong in the list of contenders .

It feels wrong putting legendary team Liman (SRB) here, but they have a different team this year although established stars Stefan Kojic and Mihailo Vasic will provide the stability.

This event will be a chance to see how Liman integrates American Andrew Kelly and Chinese player Yanxu Zhou, but they may have their work cut out emerging from a tough Pool B. 

Amsterdam HiPRO (NED) are adjusting without van der Horst and suffered a setback in Utsunomiya with a quarter-final exit. Highlight machine Worthy de Jong was up to his usual magic tricks with his new team, but Amsterdam's chemistry looked a little bit off. 

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The Dutch Masters will hope they can develop better team work as they face in Pool C dangerous Partizan (SRB), who also made the quarters in Utsunomiya. 

It's probably taken us too long to get to Sansar MMC Energy (MGL), who lit up Utsunomiya with a semi-final run with young star Anand Ariunbold continuing his heater to start 2023. 

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They face countrymen Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL) in the highlight of Pool D with these Mongolian teams looking to continue the momentum for a country still basking in winning the men's FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023

There is also a strong qualifying draw led by Warsaw Lotto (POL) and in-form Utsunomiya BREX (JPN) hoping to make it through. 


Pool A: Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL), Paris (FRA), Futian (CHN)
Pool B: Riga (LAT), Liman (SRB), Beijing (CHN)
Pool C: Amsterdam HiPRO (NED), Partizan (SRB), Qualifier
Pool D: Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL), Sansar MMC Energy (MGL), Qualifier

What's at stake

The top 2 teams in Shenzhen will qualify for the Macau Masters on July 8-9, 2023, as part of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.

How to watch

The two-day extravaganza is on May 13-14 and you can follow it live on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube and Facebook pages.