PENANG (Malaysia) – A courageous Novi Sad (SRB) were pushed to the limit by in-form Edmonton (CAN) but returned to winning fashion at the third 3×3 Challenger of the season in Penang, Malaysia, on May 11-12, 2019.
The No.1 team in the world had to do it the hard way in the last-minute absence of Dusan Bulut. The three-man lineup of Dejan Majstorovic, Marko Zdero and Marko Savic produced a gutsy performance and overcame an early loss to Edmonton in the pool stage to beat the Canadians in the final.
Much to their delight, Novi Sad thrillingly beat their Serbian rivals Liman (SRB) 21-19 in the quarter-finals in the latest chapter between the two best teams in the world. It was sweet revenge for Novi Sad, whose 35-game winning streak ended at the hands of Liman during last month’s Doha Masters.
Majstorovic reminded everyone why he is ‘The Maestro’ in Malaysia. In the knockout stages, Majstorovic stepped up with a dominant 15 points against Liman, 16 versus Tokyo Dime (JPN) in the semis and then a game-high 9 points in the final.
He was splashing from another postcode but also deadly from inside to deservedly win the MVP after finishing with an incredible 57 points (34 from behind the arc).
The Serbs usually play their best on the big stage and this was no exception as they raced out of the blocks faster than Usain Bolt. Majstorovic continued his hot form with a couple of two-pieces to give Novi Sad a commanding 11-4 lead.
It looked like an easy win until Edmonton found their groove. 25-year-old Jordan Jensen-Whyte played tough defense to force Novi Sad into turnovers. Landry and Jermaine Bucknor feasted inside to get the Canadians within two.
But, fittingly, Majstorovic iced the game at the line to seal Novi Sad’s crown.
NANJING (China) – The tournament’s number 9 seed Edmonton (CAN) beat all odds to win the 2nd 3×3 Challenger of the season in Nanjing, China on April 20-21, 2019.
The Canadians are one of the brand new teams on the World Tour this season. The squad is the result of the split-up of Team Saskatoon (CAN), who finished 2nd at the World Tour back in 2014: Jordan Baker, Jermaine Bucknor and Steve Sir created Edmonton while Nolan Brudehl, Michael Lieffers and Michael Linklater remained with Team Saskatoon.
The team’s success shouldn’t come as a total surprise as Edmonton reached the semi-finals of the Wuxi Challenger the previous week. In Nanjing, they switched to 6th gear.
Their captain Steve Sir went from Steve Kerr to Steph Curry in Nanjing. The best shooter in the history of NCAA basketball (in percentage) was more of a spot-up or a catch-and-shoot shooter last year. This year, he’s also shooting off the dribble and has more responsibilities with the ball. This translated into an MVP performance, including an event-best 36 points (32 of them coming from behind the arc).
Princeton started the final with the pedal on the gas and jumped to a 6-2 lead after Kareem Maddox converted a free throw. But Steve Sir had been there, done that. The Canadian sniper went unconscious, hitting 3 twos in a row in 90 seconds. leading his team to a 8-nothing-run. He had a game-high 9 points in the final. His team-mate 25-year-old Jordan Jensen-Whyte also scored from behind the arc and gave Edmonton a 19-10 lead with 2’30” to go. The Canadians had a bit of a late-game scare as they did not score after that. Former NBA player Robbie Hummel started finding his range (he also had 4 two-pointers in the game) but Princeton could not complete that come-back and fell 3 points short (16-19).
Edmonton and Princeton won their ticket to the 2nd Masters of the season in Chengdu. They join Novi Sad (SRB) and Ljubljana (SLO) – who qualified based on ranking – and Riga Ghetto (LAT) and Gagarin (RUS), who finished 1 and 2 at the 1st Challenger of the season in Wuxi, China. It’ll be Edmonton’s first-ever trip to the World Tour.
EDMONTON (3×3 Challengers)- NY Harlem 3Ball (USA) won the Edmonton Challenger after defeating Ralja Intergalactic (SRB) 21-17 in the final on September 22-23.
NY Harlem 3Ball won their first challenger of the season against the newest Serbian team on the tour. The final was one of the fastest games of the tournament lasting only 5:30 of game time. Ralja took an early lead as 23-year-old star Nebosja Kilijan scored 3x 2-pointers. It was not enough to beat the 2-time WT Mexico City Masters runner-up Disco Dominque Jones and company.
NY Harlem 3Ball won a USD 10,000 cheque, they also secured a ticket to the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Penang Masters, which will take place in Malaysia on October 13-14.
This means NY Harlem 3Ball will play in their 2 Masters of the 2018 season.
By finishing second, Ralja Intergalactic also won a trip to Malaysia. It will be their 3rd Masters of the season. They are currently ranked 14th on 2018 WT standings and will look to improve upon 6th place finish in Debrecen Masters.
In total, 16 teams from 7 countries competed for 2 days in the West Edmonton Mall for a total of USD 20,000 in prize money.
The other teams who have already clinched their ticket to the Penang Masters are Liman (SRB), Zemun (SRB), Kranj (SLO), Princeton (USA), Piran (SLO), Melbourne (AUS), Delhi (IND), Tachikawa Dice (JPN).