Wuxi claim first title at FIBA 3x3 Yichang Challenger 2023
YICHANG (China) - Wuxi (CHN) flew the Chinese flag and made a statement after claiming their first pro circuit title at the FIBA 3x3 Yichang Challenger 2023.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Wuxi (CHN)
They were: No.1 most points scored, best shooting value and fewest points allowed
Wuxi are part of a contingent of Chinese teams who have loaded up in 2023 and mean business.
They finished runners-up at the Novi Sad Challenger, but wanted to go one better on home soil.
But they didn't look like title contenders when the No.4 seeds fell to Toronto KBA (CAN) in a Day One thriller.
Wuxi still made it through to the knockout stages and went up a gear with an easy quarter-final victory over Zavkhan SAINSCORE (MGL) before overcoming Wuhan (CHN) in a semi-final thriller.
They would not be denied a title on this occasion with Wuxi breaking their drought with a memorable win over Princeton (USA).
Young gun Jiaren Zhao is getting better every time he steps on the half-court, so quickly jump on before the bandwagon is full!
But the main star was MVP Marko Radonjic, who perfectly encapsulated Wuxi's two-point heavy style by shooting a crazy 16 of 30 from downtown.
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The runner's-up: Princeton (USA)
Iconic American team Princeton look slightly different in 2023, but they are still producing plenty of dubs.
They had a rocky Day One with a tough loss to Wuhan before recording a stunning one-two punch against Futian (CHN) and Toronto KBA.
Princeton fell short of a second title this season, but this new line-up is paying a fitting tribute to their legendary brand.
Crazy Caruso: Sharpshooter Henry Caruso has been one of the best newcomers to 3x3 and he again was red-hot to finish No.1 in player value (39.8) and No.3 in scoring (32).
He combined brilliantly with fellow sniper Damon Huffman, who proved he was a tough man to finish with 30 points as a new deadly duo make their mark.
The Final: Wuxi 22- Princeton 16
The battle between the third and fourth seeds promised a close contest and this didn't disappoint.
Damon Huffman and Marko Radonjic traded two-pieces in a sign of what was ahead between red-hot shooting teams.
This threatened to be a shoot-out contest with Radonjic and Huffman again firing from downtown, while Stefan Stojacic was out to prove he could still get wet.
Radonjic was a man possessed as he drained another and when Jiaren Zhao skipped prettily to the basket for a lay up, Wuxi were in control at 12-7.
Princeton needed their bucket getter to get going and Henry Caruso stepped up with three quick points to close the gap to 14-13.
But Radonjic was not to be denied as he hit a couple of two-pointers to reinstate Wuxi's buffer before finishing Princeton off with his sixth two to call game with nearly three minutes left on the clock.
A ridiculous Radonjic finished with 12 points as Wuxi deservedly celebrated their title breakthrough.
The reward: Three tickets to the Constanta Masters
Wuxi, Princeton and Wuhan joined Amsterdam HiPRO, Antwerp TOPdesk, Raudondvaris Hoptrans, Liman Huishan NE, Fribourg and Hangzhou as the teams to have qualified for the Constanta Masters on September 9-10.
1. Wuxi (CHN)
2. Princeton (USA)
3. Wuhan (CHN)
4. Toronto KBA (CAN)
5. Futian (CHN)
1. Ximiao Yu (Wuhan, CHN) 38 pts
2. Marko Radonjic (Wuxi, CHN) 36 pts
3. Henry Caruso (Princeton, USA) 32 pts
4. Damon Huffman (Princeton, (USA) 30 pts
5. Jiaren Zhao (Wuxi, CHN) 29 pts
- Top seeds Futian and Utrecht (NED) fell in the quarters.
- Futian's Thibaut Vervoort was 'Must See TV' against Manila Chooks on Day One with a triple-five consisting of 8 points, 5 rebounds and 5 highlights.
- Wuxi's rising star Jiaren Zhao had a monster game against host Yichang (CHN), where he had a player-value of 20.5.