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



Huaian 3×3 Challenger Preview: Third time lucky for Novi Sad?

HUAIAN (3×3 Challenger) – After missing out on a World Tour ticket at the Nanjing and Wuxi Challengers, the number one 3×3 team in the world Novi Sad (SRB) will look to win their first title of the season against some of their biggest rivals at the Huaian 3×3 Challenger in China on May 12-13, 2018.

The beginning of the season couldn’t have been more irritating for the 2-time World Tour winners (2014, 2015). On Dusan Bulut’s official website, the number one 3×3 player in the world Dejan Majstorovic explains:

“We didn’t start the season the way we wanted, we are still searching our game. I have to admit that we also didn’t have luck. In Nanjing, Moscow scored 8 shots from outside the arc, out of which 3 were off the backboard. The same thing happened to us at the Wuxi Challenger, in the semi-finals against Humpolec, where they score another 2-pointer off the backboard while we were up 20-19.”

For his teammate Bulut, things are crystal clear: “Only victory. We won’t be satisfied with anything less in Huaian.”

Last year, for the first edition of the Huaian 3×3 Challenger, Novi Sad came close to victory but lost a close final against Zemun (SRB). This season, Zemun will not compete in Eastern China but 3 other teams in the Top 8 will be there.

It starts with Liman (SRB) who have now topped Zemun to rank 2nd overall in the FIBA 3×3 Team Ranking and are fresh off a big win at the Wuxi Challenger last week.

Two-time World Tour winners (2013, 2016) Ljubljana (SLO) have slipped to 6th overall in the rankings but showed good things at the Penang Challenger (4th).

Last but not least, Belgrade (SRB, 8th) proved they could beat anyone at the GoYang Challenger earlier this year (they defeated the eventual winners Saskatoon (CAN) in the pool phase).

Two more Top 20 teams (Ulaanbaatar, MGL, 13th and Ljubljana East, SLO, 20th) will play in Huaian.

On top of that, 2 other Top 30 teams will be in attendance, with the red-hot Moscow Inanomo (RUS, 21st) who finished 2nd in Nanjing and 5th in Wuxi and the US National Champions, Team Princeton (USA, 26th), featuring 3×3 star Dan Mavraides and former NBA player Robbie Hummel.

The two best teams at the Huaian Challenger qualify to the Kuala Lumpur Masters on October 13-14, 2018.

Two teams have already earned a trip to Malaysia: Zemun (SRB) and Kranj (SLO) (based on ranking).

The 16 participating teams from 6 different countries will also compete for 20,000 USD in prize money.