Piran flex, win third consecutive 3×3 Challenger in Ulaanbaatar

ULAANBAATAR (3×3 Challengers) – Piran (SLO) continued their hot streak by winning their third 3×3 Challenger in 4 weeks after narrowly edging out Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS) 14-12 in the final of the Ulaanbaatar Challenger on June 2-3, 2018.

After taking home 10,000 USD in both Penang and Sydney, the number 4 team in the world collected another 10 grands in Mongolia. They became the first team to win 3 Challengers this season (Liman (SRB) is the only other squad that has won more than 1 (they have 2 titles)).

This title was probably the hardest to get as they ended their 10-game winning streak in their opener against Moskva (RUS). After that they won 3 nail-biters against Saskatoon (CAN) (12-11), Novi Sad (SRB) (18-14) and Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS) (14-12).

It was the second time in a row Piran and Melbourne met in a Challenger Final. Unlike what happened in Sydney 2 weeks earlier (when the Australians played the entire second day without a sub), the game was competitive. The score was tied at 9, 10, 11 and 12, with just 1 minute to go after another beautiful post move, courtesy of tournament top scorer Thomas Garlepp (Melbourne).

But with 35 seconds left, MVP Anze Srebovt bullied his way to the basket. Piran pushed up their defensive intensity and Gasper Ovnik stole the ball. With less than 2 seconds to go, Simon Finzgar finished the game from the line.

Both teams won a ticket to the Kuala Lumpur Masters. This amounts to 5 passes to the World Tour this season for the Slovenians (Mexico City and Prague based on ranking plus India, Kuala Lumpur and Utsunomiya via Challengers). Melbourne will have a chance to avenge their 2 losses against Piran both at Kuala Lumpur and Utsunomiya.

The lineup for the Kuala Lumpur Masters starts to take shape with 6 participants now confirmed. Besides Piran and Melbourne i-Athletic , Zemun (SRB) and Kranj (SLO) [based on ranking], Princeton (USA) and Liman (SRB) have already stamped their ticket to Malaysia.

Seven of the Top 23 teams in the world and a total of 16 teams from 9 different countries competed at the Ulaanbaatar Challenger.

The next Challengers will be held in Hangzhou, China and Limassol, Cyprus on June 16-17, just after the FIBA 3×3 World Cup.

The event was also an interesting preview of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup as Piran (1st), Novi Sad (3rd) and Moskva (5th) featured the core of the Slovenian, Serbian and Russian national teams, which will be the top 3 seeds at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup on June 8-12, 2018.

Final Standings:

  1. Piran (SLO)
  2. Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS)
  3. Novi Sad (SRB)
  4. Ulaanbaatar (MGL)
  5. Moskva (RUS)

Top Scorers:

  1. Thomas Garlepp (Melbourne i-Athletic) 40 pts
  2. Anze Srebovt (Piran) 30 pts
  3. Michael Hicks (Gdansk Energa 3×3) 28 pts
  4. Dusan Domovic Bulut (Novi Sad) 28 pts
  5. Delgernyam Davaasambuu (Ulaanbaatar) 27 pts



Piran confirm impressive early season form with Sydney 3×3 Challenger title

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.

Final Standings:

  1. Piran (SLO)
  2. Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS)
  3. Amsterdam Inoxdeals (NED)
  4. Adjuntas (PUR)
  5. Belgrade (SRB)

Top Scorers:

  1. Anze Srebovt (Piran) 42 pts
  2. Thomas Garlepp (Melbourne i-Athletic) 34 pts
  3. Simon Finzgar (Piran) 33 pts
  4. Andrew Steel (Melbourne i-Athletic) 28 pts
  5. Dimeo Van der Horst (Amsterdam Inoxdeals) 26 pts