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.