WUXI (China) – The number 3 team in the world Riga Ghetto (LAT) won the 1st 3×3 Challenger of the season in Wuxi, China on April 13-14, 2019.
Last year the Latvians were the team that made the most money on the challenger circuit (5 titles, $55,000 in total). The team lived up to the hype in Wuxi with 5 wins in 5 games, including 4 games before the limit.
Their star player Karlis Lasmanis topped all scorers with 39 points (7.8 ppg) and was named MVP of the event. Interestingly the team was playing without their veteran Edgars Krumins. Nauris Miezis was making his official comeback after being sidelined for over a month with a leg injury.
We had an entertaining final in Wuxi (8th fastest game of the tournament). Props to Gagarin for making it a ball game cause it really didn’t look that way after they were down 8-2 and later 17-8. After crazy comeback wins in the quarter and semi-finals, Gagarin once again came from behind. Zuev fueled a 7-0 run with a big 2-pointer with 2 minutes to go to make it a one-possession game. But then Gagarin fell back to Earth. They would not score again. The fans will remember Lasmanis’ double-digit effort in the final (10 points) but Nauris Miezis scored the game-winner and had himself a ball game. He had a very rare triple five with 7 points, 6 highlights (including 5 key assists) and 5 rebounds.
Both Riga Ghetto and Gagarin won their ticket to the 2nd Masters of the season in Chengdu. Novi Sad (SRB) and Ljubljana (SLO) were the only 2 teams to have already clinched a spot in the city of the pandas (based on their ranking). Riga will actually open their World Tour season this week at the Doha Masters. They qualified by winning the 1st edition of the United League Europe in St Petersburg.