Humpolec finally over the hump at Limassol 3×3 Challenger

LIMASSOL (3×3 Challengers) – Humpolec Bernard (CZE) won their first-ever 3×3 Challenger after a dramatic comeback win against Liman Tesla Voda (SRB) in the final of the Limassol 3×3 Challenger on June 16-17, 2018.

Down 11-15 with 90 seconds to go, the number 1 team in Czech Republic look doomed to get their 3rd second-place finish in a row in a challenger this season. After all, the team had reasons to celebrate: the 2 best teams in each challenger get a ticket to a FIBA 3×3 World Tour Masters. And Humpolec Bernard had already secured a spot to Debrecen after Utsunomiya and Prague.

But this time Humpolec finally got over the hump. The new guy on the team Vladimir Sismilich curled to the 2-point arc and launched a perfect shot that the windy beaches of Limassol couldn’t stop.

Though Liman Tesla Voda lost 4,000 USD on this miracle shot, they didn’t lose everything on Cyprus Hill. They can take solace in becoming the first team this season to qualify for 6 World Tour Masters! Get ready to see a lot of Stefan Stojacic this season. He’s expected to play in Saskatoon, Utsunomiya, Prague, Debrecen, Chengdu and Kuala Lumpur.

Novi Sad (SRB) and Kranj (SLO) are the only other 2 squads who have already qualified to the Debrecen Masters, which will take place on August 30-31.

Six of the Top 15 teams in the world and a total of 16 teams from 12 different countries competed in Cyprus.

For the first time this season, 2 French teams made it to the knock-out stage as Nice finished 4th and Paris LCG 5th overall.

The tournament also featured player, MC, commentator Dora Panteli, who will represent the Greek women’s national team at the FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup Andorra Qualifier this weekend.

The next Challenger will be held in Lipik, Croatia on June 22-23.



Liman do it again, win Chengdu 3×3 Challenger

CHENGDU (3×3 Challengers) – Liman (SRB) maintained their early season torrid pace by dominating Vitez EcosRomari (BIH) (19-17) in the final of the Chengdu 3×3 Challenger on May 26-27, 2018.

The number two 3×3 team won their 2nd challenger of the season after their success in Wuxi and became the first team to qualify for 5 World Tour Masters this season (Saskatoon, Utsunomiya, Prague, Chengdu and Kuala Lumpur).

The young Serbian team went undefeated in Chengdu but were given a few scares along the way, in a quarter-final overtime thriller against Belgrade (SRB) and in the final against Vitez.

In the championship game, the surprising Vitez – missing their star player Zeljko Palavra – looked Liman right in the eyes and the score was tied at 6, 11 and then again 13. One of the main reasons was former Kranj (SLO) player Sinisa Stemberger who was on a heat check for 2 full days. The Croatian sharpshooter topped all scorers in China.

Liman star Stefan Stojacic struggled at times in Chengdu but he was decisive in the last minute of the championship game with 2 strong drives with 1 minute and 23 seconds to go.

Both finalists won a ticket to the opening World Tour event of the season: the Saskatoon Masters, which will take place on July 28-29.

Two historic teams confirmed their early season woes: both Ljubljana (SLO) and Belgrade (SRB) disappeared in the quarter-finals. Neither of them have been able to stamp a new World Tour ticket since the season started.

Seven of the Top 20 teams in the world and a total of 16 teams from 10 different countries competed at the Chengdu Challenger.

The next Challengers will take place in The Hague, Netherlands and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on June 2-3.

Final Standings:

  1. Liman (SRB)
  2. Vitez EcosRomari (BIH)
  3. Ulaanbaatar (MGL)
  4. Ulaanbaatar (MGL)
  5. Amsterdam Inoxdeals (NED)

Top Scorers:

  1. Sinisa Stemberger (Vitez EcosRomari) 37 pts
  2. Delgernyam Davaasambuu (Ulaanbaatar) 28 pts, Matic Urbas (Kranj) 28 pts
  3. Stefan Stojacic (Liman) 27 pts, Mihailo Vasic (Liman) 27 pts



Princeton win Huaian 3×3 Challenger

HUAIAN (3×3 Challenger) – Princeton (USA) won the Huaian 3×3 Challenger after edging out Liman (SRB) 21-19 in the final in Huaian, China on May 12-13, 2018.

After splitting games on Day 1 (including a 17-16 loss against Liman), the US national champs went off in the knock-out rounds. They beat three Top 8 teams in a row, including the #1 squad in the world in the semi-finals (Novi Sad) and the #2 in the final (Liman).

The title game was a nail-biter. No team would ever take a 4-point lead. With Princeton up 20-19, it was fitting that the 6ft 8in (2.04m) Kareem Maddox took his responsibilities, drove to the basket, drew a foul and finished the game from the line.

The 28-year-old 3×3 rookie was a joint top scorer in Huaian (tied with Liman’s Stefan Stojacic) and took home the MVP trophy.

It was Princeton’s first-ever title on the 3×3 pro circuit. With this win, they not only put 10,000 USD in the bag but also secured a ticket to the Kuala Lumpur Masters, their 3rd World Tour spot already this season (after qualifying to the Mexico City and Saskatoon Masters).

Despite losing in the final, Liman achieved their goal of qualifying for their 4th Masters this year (Chengdu, Kuala Lumpur, Prague and Utsunomiya).

The early season struggles continued for former World Tour winners Novi Sad (SRB) – finished 3rd and failed to secure an extra World tour ticket for the 3rd time in a row – and Ljubljana (SLO), who didn’t even make it out of the pools.

On the bright side, Moscow Inanomo (RUS) continued to impress, making it from the qualifying draw to the knock-out rounds for the 3rd time in a row (2nd in Nanjing, 5th in Wuxi and 6th in Huaian). The young Ljubljana East team (SLO) achieved their best result ever on the pro circuit with a surprise 4th place finish.

There will be 2 more challengers this weekend (May 19-20) with the Moscow Open Challenger in Russia and the Sydney Challenger in Australia.

Interestingly, 5 different teams have won the first 5 Challengers of the season (Saskatoon (CAN), Riga (LAT), Piran (SLO), Liman (SRB) and Princeton (USA)).

Final Standings:

  1. Princeton (USA)
  2. Liman (SRB)
  3. Novi Sad (SRB)
  4. Ljubljana East (SLO)
  5. Belgrade (SRB)

Top Scorers:

  1. Kareem Maddox (Princeton) 39 pts, Stefan Stojacic (Liman) 39 pts
  2. Dusan Bulut (Novi Sad) 34 pts
  3. Milojko Vasilic (Ljubljana East) 26 pts
  4. Dejan Majstorovic (Novi Sad) 25 pts



Liman open season with Wuxi 3×3 Challenger win

WUXI (3×3 Challenger) – Liman (SRB) won the Wuxi 3×3 Challenger after beating Humpolec Bernard (CZE) 22-14 in the final in Wuxi, China on May 5-6, 2018.

For their first appearance on the pro circuit this year, Liman were impressive, ending up with a clean 5-0 record, with 4 of these wins coming before the limit. Last year’s World Tour regular season MVP Stefan Stojacic picked up where he left off: the 29-year-old led all scorers in Wuxi with 38 points.

In the final, Liman jumped off to a 9-1 win on a Stojacic long bomb. Humpolec crawled back in the game and made it a 3-possession game (11-16) with 2 minutes to go. But the Serbs continued to fire from behind the arc and Stojacic swished one last 2-pointer for the win.

With this win, Liman qualify for the Utsunomiya Masters, their 3rd World Tour event for the season already. Based on ranking, they already earned a ticket to the Chengdu and Prague Masters.

Humpolec may have lost the final but they had reasons to celebrate. Coming to China as the 16th team in the world, they upset the number 1 team overall and 2-time World Tour winners Novi Sad (SRB) in the semi-finals in a 21-20 thriller. They stamped their ticket to the Utsunomiya Masters (their first guaranteed World Tour event this year) and moved up to the 12th spot in the FIBA 3×3 Team Ranking after the event. Oh and their star player Roman Zachrla took home the MVP trophy!

Next challenger this weekend in Huaian, China (May 12-13) with Liman, Novi Sad, Ljubljana (SLO) and Belgrade (SRB) – in other words, 4 of the top 8 teams in the world.

Final Standings:

  1. Liman (SRB)
  2. Humpolec Bernard (CZE)
  3. Novi Sad (SRB)
  4. Khovd (MGL)
  5. Moscow Inanomo (RUS)

Top Scorers:

  1. Stefan Stojacic (Liman) 38 pts
  2. Dusan Bulut (Novi Sad) 34 pts
  3. Stefan Kojic (Liman) 32 pts
  4. Dejan Majstorovic (Novi Sad) 29 pts
  5. Roman Zachrla (Humpolec) 29 pts



Novi Sad Al Wahda make history after winning Lipik 3×3 Challenger

Two-time FIBA 3×3 World Tour winners Novi Sad Al Wahda (UAE) became the first team in 3×3 history to qualify to each one of the World Tour Masters after winning the loaded Cedevita Lipik 3×3 Challenger in Lipik, Croatia on June 30 and July 1 2017.

Despite missing two core players due to injury (Marko Savic and Marko Zdero), Novi Sad Al Wahda were a perfect 6-0 in Lipik.

With his team up 18-17 in the final against Liman (SRB), the number one 3×3 player in the world Dusan Domovic Bulut drove hard to the basket, drew the foul and got the acrobatic finish to fall. With Liman in the penalty, ‘Mr Bullutproof’ ice the game from the free throw line.

His team-mate Dejan Majstorovic was named MVP, just a week after being named MVP of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2017.

By reaching the final, both Novi Sad Al Wahda and Liman (whose star Stefan Stojacic was the top scorer in Lipik) qualified for the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Saskatoon Masters, the only one still missing for Bulut’s team.

After getting an automatic spot in 3 World Tour Masters (Debrecen, Mexico City and Prague) based on their #1 rank in the FIBA 3×3 Team Ranking at the end of last season, Novi Sad Al Wahda earned their ticket to the other 4 (Chengdu, Lausanne, Utsunomiya and now Saskatoon) by shining in challengers, these international tournaments which qualify 2 teams to the World Tour directly.

The Cedevita Lipik 3×3 Challenger was the only European-based qualifier to the Saskatoon Masters. As a result, 13 of the 15 top teams in the FIBA 3×3 Team Ranking traveled to Croatia for the event!

Photo: FOTOimago