Resurgent Saskatoon win Hang Zhou 3×3 Challenger

HANG ZHOU (3×3 Challengers) – Saskatoon bounced back after defeating The Hague (NED) 21-9 in the final of the Hang Zhou 3×3 Challenger on June 16-17, 2018.

There were high expectations for Michael Linklater and his 3 Saskatoon teammates as they represented Canada at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup earlier this month, especially after they had a perfect 4-0 record in the pool phase. But the tournament ended abruptly with a quarter final loss against the Netherlands.

Team Saskatoon proved that setback would not affect the rest of their 3×3 season as they won their 2nd Challenger of the season (after their win in GoYang, South Korea).

After stuttering on their opener (a 13-18 loss to Ralja Intergalactic), the Canadians won their next 4, with 2 wins against Top 10 teams in the world (Riga (LAT) and Kranj (SLO)).

After breaking the rim at the dunk contest, Michael Lieffers aka ‘Maple Lief’ gave Saskatoon a lift in a one-sided 21-9 in the final against a surprising The Hague team, which beat last year’s World Tour winners Zemun (SRB) in pool play.

Both Saskatoon and The Hague won a pass to the World Tour Chengdu Masters, which will take place on September 29-30. This will mark The Hague’s first World Tour appearance with this roster. Saskatoon had already secured a spot for the Saskatoon Masters by winning the GoYang Challenger.

Liman Tesla Voda (SRB), Riga (LAT), Moscow Inanomo (RUS) and Ulaanbaatar (MGL) are the other 4 teams who have already stamped their ticket to the Chengdu Masters.

Eight of the Top 20 teams in the world (including 4 from the Top 10) and a total of 16 teams from10 different countries competed in Hang Zhou.

The next Challenger will be held in Lipik, Croatia on June 22-23.



Amsterdam Inoxdeals make history at The Hague 3×3 Challenger

THE HAGUE (3×3 Challengers) – Amsterdam Inoxdeals (NED) won their first-ever 3×3 Challenger after taking down Ralja Intergalactic (SRB) in the final of the The Hague 3×3 Challenger on June 2-3, 2018.

After finishing 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017, the number one 3×3 player in the Netherlands Jesper Jobse eventually won the The Hague Challenger. It took him to go full beast mode for Amsterdam to win a tournament that featured 6 of the Top 20 teams in the world.

The lefty led all scorers by a 10 point-margin and guided his team to prestige victories on Day 2 against 2-time World Tour winners Ljubljana (SLO) in the quarter-finals, the best team in the US – Princeton – in the semi-finals and a surprise Ralja Intergalactic team in the final.

The championship game was pretty one-sided though the local fans may have had déjà-vu when Ralja was down by 6 with 2 minutes to go. In the semi-finals, with the Serbian team down 17-11 against event favorites Riga (LAT), the diminutive Nebojsa Kilijan fueled a lethal 8-1 run that led to a 19-18 win.

But with the beach on the horizon, the Dutch would not bury their head in the sand. Dimeo Van der Horst set his feet in the corner and splashed a game-winning 2, that set the crowd on fire.

Besides the 10,000 USD winning cheque, Amsterdam also secured a second ticket to the World Tour. After winning a trip to the Utsunomiya Masters at the Sydney Challenger (they finished 3rd but 2nd-placed Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS) were already qualified via the NBL Pro Hustle League), the team now has secured a spot at the Prague Masters.

Ralja also wrote an important page of their history by winning their first pass to the World Tour. Very big man (6ft 10, 2.10m) Nikola Vujovic is the only player with World Tour experience: he made 1 appearance with Team Maribor (SLO) at the Lausanne Masters back in 2016.

A total of 6 teams have now qualified for the Prague Masters, which will be held on August 4-5. Liman (SRB) and Piran (SLO) [based on ranking], Amsterdam Inoxdeals (NED), Gagarin (RUS), Humpolec Bernard (CZE) and Ralja Intergalactic (SRB).

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

It has to be a boost of confidence for the 4 players who won the The Hague Challenger and will represent the Netherlands at the World Cup. Maybe a wake-up call for the Riga players who will represent Latvia in the Philippines.

Final Standings:

  1. Amsterdam Inoxdeals (NED)
  2. Ralja Intglactic (SRB)
  3. Riga (LAT)
  4. Princeton (USA)
  5. Ljubljana (SLO)

Top Scorers:

  1. Jesper Jobse (Amsterdam Inoxdeals ) 38 pts
  2. Agnar Cavars (Riga) 28 pts, Robbie Hummel (Princeton) 28 pts
  3. Nebojsa Kilijan (Ralja Intglactic) 28 pts
  4. Nauris Miezis (Riga) 25 pts