BUCHAREST (3×3 Challengers) – After one of the most spectacular games of the season, Riga (LAT) won for the second time in a row the Raiffeisen Bank Bucharest 3×3 Challenger, edging out Novi Sad Al Wahda (SRB) by just one point, 21-20 in the final.
The tournament took place in ParkLake Shopping Center, a unique mall from District 3 of the Romanian capital city.
Nauris Miezis scored the final basket of a game filled with spectacular passes, two-point field goals and some amazing display of skills, hard work and determination from both teams. It was 3×3 basketball at his best between two of the best teams in the world right now.
The game was a roller-coaster, with Riga in the driving seat from the get-go. The Latvians had a flying start and led 7-2 after just 90 seconds. Novi Sad climbed back to just one possession 10-8 for Riga with 7 minutes to go.
Karlis Lasmanis and Miezis were on fire and Riga were leading 14-8 midway through the game. But then Dusan Bulut happened. He scored five points in a row, Tamas Ivosev add another bomb from long range and suddenly Novi Sad were up 16-15.
The final minutes were truly crazy, with both teams going at each other, trading baskets and playing with the hearts of an amazing crowd. In the end Miezis squeezed the ball into the basket on a tough reverse lay-up and Riga got the big credit card with 10,000 USD offered by Raiffeisen Bank and Mastercard.
It was the second time in 2 weeks that Riga defeated Novi Sad Al Wahda in the final of a challenger.
Surprisingly enough the number 1 team in the world still hasn’t won a single challenger this season (in 7 tries)… yet they’ve won the 2 World Tour Masters they’ve participated in. Riga on the other hand are now the team with the most challengers wins this season. After their success in Nanjing (China), Lipik (Croatia), Ventspils (in Latvia 2 weeks ago) and now Bucharest (Romania), they’ve now won 4 challengers this year.
With this win, Riga secured a ticket to the Debrecen Masters, which will take place on August 30-31. Since Novi Sad Al Wahda already had qualified (based on ranking), the team ranked 3rd in Bucharest (Team Belgrade (SRB)) will join the party in Hungary.
The 3 other teams who already have their pass for the Debrecen Masters are Humpolec Bernard (CZE) and Kranj (SLO) and last year’s winners Liman Tesla Voda (SRB).
After playing for three days in the side event organized together with the challenger, the kids got the chance to share the same stage as their idols during the award ceremony, receiving their prizes from the hands of the best players in the world.
The next Challenger is the Cedevita Ljubljana 3×3 Challenger and will be held in Slovenia on August 17-18.