Princeton produce perfect campaign to win FIBA 3x3 Hongcheon Challenger 2024

HONGCHEON (Korea) - Princeton (USA) produced an outstanding performance to claim the FIBA 3x3 Hongcheon Challenger 2024 in an unbeaten campaign. 

Here's what happened on May 11-12 in the first Challenger of the season. 

The winners: Princeton (USA)

They were: No.2 most points scored & best shooting value 

No.2 seed Princeton flew the American flag superbly in an early season statement. They mowed through the competition en route to the final, including impressive wins over Dusseldorf LFDY (GER) and Utrecht (NED) in the knockout stage.

It set up a tantalizing final with top seed San Juan Church's (PUR) and the Americans came out on top in an ominous warning to the competition. 

MVP Henry Caruso produced a spectacular all-round performance, but he had plenty of support with Damon Huffman and young guns Riley Grigsby and Austin Butler taking turns in stealing the show. 

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The runner's-up: San Juan Church’s (PUR)

They were: No.3 most points scored & best shooting value 

The Puerto Ricans have pushed through a busy early season schedule and once again showed they will be a serious force in 2024. 

They didn't earn a W, but there was a lot to like from San Juan, who came within an inch of claiming the title. They breezed through Day One before things got difficult as they survived major scares against Beijing (CHN) and Adazi (LAT) to reach the final. 

Princeton proved too good, but that did not stop Antonio Ralat from adding to his growing reputation after dominating in Hongcheon. He finished No.1 in most of the leading stats categories, including player value (56.3) and scoring (43). 

It was a brave performance from San Juan, with a couple of their players battling illness. They will now freshen up before the upcoming FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament as Puerto Rico eyes a ticket to the Paris Games. 

The Final: Princeton 21-San Juan Church's 18

There was a lot of anticipation over this contest between two heavyweights in the Americas. It was Henry Caruso who ignited Princeton to an early advantage after starting aggressively as he owned the glass. 

San Juan needed a wake-up call and they turned to a reliable source in Antonio Ralat, who attacked the rim for the and-1. Ralat then hit the mid-range before going bang to give his team their first lead. 

It was short-lived as Princeton made their move with a 5-0 run as Caruso and Damon Huffman went bang-bang to gain a stranglehold. Think San Juan would roll over, think again. 

Ralat went into attack mode and his two-piece clawed San Juan within reach of a famous comeback victory. But young stars Riley Grigsby and Austin Butler came up huge for Princeton with big buckets before Caruso fittingly closed it out to deliver his team the title. 

Caruso capped his MVP performance with a triple-five of 6 points, 8 rebounds and 5 highlights. 

 

 

The reward: Three tickets to the Chengdu Masters

Princeton, San Juan Church's and Utrecht qualified to the Chengdu Masters on June 22-23.

Final Standings:
1. Princeton (USA)
2. San Juan Church's (PUR)
3. Utrecht (NED)
4. Adazi (LAT)
5. Utsunomiya BREX EXE (JPN)

Top Scorers:
1. Antonio Ralat (San Juan Church's ,PUR) 43 pts
2. Damon Huffman (Princeton, USA) 31 pts
3. Teodor Atanasov (Utsunomiya BREX EXE, JPN) 28 pts
4.  Norbert Thelissen (Utrecht, NED) 27 pts
5. Luis Cuascut (San Juan Church's, PUR) 27 pts

Key Stats:
- Norbert Thelissen had a jaw-dropping tournament for Utrecht, including a triple-five against Beijing (CHN) and a double double against Nunawading CLB.EXE (AUS) on Day One. 
-German star Niklas Kropp showed off his passing skills to be the overall leader in key assists with 11 from just three games. 
- Utsunomiya BREX EXE's (JPN) 22-3 beat down of Seoul (KOR) on Day One lasted just 5'59" in playing time to be the fastest game of the tournament.

FIBA