SYDNEY (3×3 Challengers) – Piran (SLO) became the first team to win 2 Challengers this season after defeating Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS) (22-9) in the final of the Sydney Challenger on May 18-19, 2018.
For the first-ever Challenger held in Australia, Basketball Australia and the NBL offered one of the most iconic backdrops in 3×3 history with the Sydney Opera House on the horizon.
The number 4 team in the world Piran was apparently inspired as it delivered a 5-0 masterpiece over the 2 days of competition.
The Slovenian team picked things up where it left off just 2 weeks after winning the Penang Challenger in Malaysia: they’ve now won 10 games in a row.
It didn’t seem to matter that Piran were missing their leader Gasper Ovnik in Australia (replaced by 3×3 pro circuit rookie Ziga Erculj). 26-year-old Anze Srebovt took over with a top-scoring 42 points and ‘the Sphinx’ Simon Finzgar finished 3rd in scoring with 33 points.
Piran won every game before the limit except a 18-16 thriller against Amsterdam Inoxdeals (NED) in the semi-finals.
This means the Slovenian team now has secured 4 tickets to the World Tour this season (Mexico City and Prague based on ranking plus India and Utsunomiya via Challengers).
The other finalists Melbourne i-Athletic on the other hand will compete at their first-ever World Tour event in Utsunomiya, Japan on July 28-29. In fact they will become the first Australian team to make it to the World Tour since the inaugural edition back in 2012.
The Australian team had a heroic performance on the second day of competition in Sydney. Down just 3 players, with no subs, they won back-to-back nail-biters against Lausanne (SUI) in the quarter-finals and Adjuntas (PUR) in the semi-finals. Completely exhausted, they did come back to earth in the final against the dominant Piran.
Melbourne i-Athletic are the pro version of the Australian national team, which won gold at the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup 2018.
We now know half of the 14 teams who will play at the Utsunomiya Masters with Ljubljana (SLO), Zemun (SRB) (based on ranking), Auckland (NZL) (3×3 New Zealand Quest Tour winners), Liman (SRB), Humpolec Bernard (CZE) (Wuxi Challenger finalists), Piran (SLO) and Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS).
Five of the Top 15 teams in the world and a total of 16 teams from 10 different countries played at the Sydney Challenger.
The next Challenger will take place in Chengdu, China on May 26-27.
- Piran (SLO)
- Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS)
- Amsterdam Inoxdeals (NED)
- Adjuntas (PUR)
- Belgrade (SRB)
- Anze Srebovt (Piran) 42 pts
- Thomas Garlepp (Melbourne i-Athletic) 34 pts
- Simon Finzgar (Piran) 33 pts
- Andrew Steel (Melbourne i-Athletic) 28 pts
- Dimeo Van der Horst (Amsterdam Inoxdeals) 26 pts