6 reasons why the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2023 lived up to the hype
VIENNA (Austria) - The FIBA World Cup 2023 was billed to be the greatest 3x3 event of the year. Not only were those expectations exceeded, we might have just witnessed the greatest 3x3 World Cup in history.
Here are 6 reasons why the Vienna FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2023 lived up to all the hype and then some.
1. Serbs show how it’s done
The question before the tournament on everybody’s minds was, “Who can stop Serbia?” Well, turns out, no one.
Serbia (men) took home gold in Vienna for the sixth time in eight iterations of the competition. The achievement sounds impressive, but it only becomes grander when you realize just how unpredictable 3x3 basketball is. Not only do the fantastic four get it done time and time again, they do so in style. Trying to stop “Doctor Strange” Stojacic? “The Maestro” Majstorovic takes over. Somehow able to stop them both, you still have Vasic and Brankovic to contain. When the Serbs get rolling, there is no team in this world that can contain them.
2. Red, White and Blue shines
The hype was real for team USA (women). Collegiate stars Hailey Van Lith and Cameron Brink were set to bolster the squad with their offensive and defensive ability respectively. Many thought the adjustment wouldn’t be quick enough. Well, not only did the American women switch it up on their rivals, making them rethink how they’ll handle the physical USA, they went on to win gold against last year’s champions France. The world was talking about the heroics of the American side with a unique mix of leadership and selflessness.
They made a statement in Vienna, one heard loud and clear
3. The most epic Final ever
It was Serbia and USA in the finals, both teams undefeated heading into the most important game of the year. Serbia has swept through their competition, treating us to some of the highest calibre of basketball we have witnessed in 3x3. On the other hand, the dynamic United States led by former NBA star Jimmer Fredette, had developed a reputation. They were the ‘villains’, most prominently in the game against Austria when Fredette silenced the crowd. Travis, Maddox and Barry were gritty and physical.
The matchup seemed perfect. They had the ingredients to take on the one side nobody could conquer. The air was tense as the game got underway. What followed was just under 7 minutes of the most thrilling 3x3 basketball ever.
It had everything, the unimaginable shooting ability of Stojacic, Majstorovic and Fredette. The battle between Travis and Vasic. Maddox and Barry attempting to keep the cutters at bay. It was everything 3x3 is about.
It had moments that made us all jump out of our seats, from Dr. Strange making Fredette touch Earth before draining a two, to the heartbreaking in-and-out two attempt by the American star. A 15-19 lead for the USA gave them hope, but Serbia surged back, picking up the win 21-19 to further cement their legacy as the greatest 3x3 nation of all time.
Show any sports watcher that final, and just watch them fall in love with the sport in just 7 minutes.
4. Historic moments
While it is said that history is written by the victors, the World Cup in Vienna was loaded with memories that will be talked about for a while. The opening game set the tone for what’s to come as Kateřina Galíčková took Czech Republic to a huge OT win against contenders Canada. We had Spanish icon Sandra Ygueravide pick up a head injury in their first game against France before bouncing back in style with an 11-point game to turn tides in their favor against Austria.
On the women’s side, however, no moment can top 20-year-old Yua Emura going ballistic against Poland, dropping 18 points in one game. She was showered with MVP chant as the Rathausplatz crowd could do nothing but cheer in admiration.
The men showed out too. The young German duo of Denzel Agyeman and Sidi Beikame brought the house down, postering anyone in their path. Every Germany game was must-see as we got a glimpse of the future in 3x3.
Brazil had a fairytale run, making it all the way to the Semi-finals utilizing their size and sharpshooting to brush past their opposition. Their game against Poland however, had perhaps the best moment of the tournament. With barely any time on the clock and down by 2, Leonardo Branquinho heaved up a long fadeaway two to hand them the lead and the win. The outpouring of emotions surprised no one as everyone watched in awe at an incredible moment.
Countless other moments had us hooked from Day 1, only adding to how special the World Cup in Vienna truly was.
5. Vienna showed out
Speaking of Vienna, how awesome was the crowd! The sold-out Rathausplatz was rocking every single night, from the opening game to the Final. When the hometown sides took to the court, the crowd roared in support of their players.
Still need more evidence? Just watch back the crucial game the Austrian women played against the 2022 World Cup champions France. The Austrian fans willed their side on, surging them to a 10-13 win.
Vienna was bound to be the ideal city for the World Cup to take place in, but they won the hearts of fans around the world with the love they showed the game.
6. A dunk contest for the ages
When the final four for the dunk contest final was set, there was no doubt that the metaphorical roof was about to blow off Rathausplatz. Chris Staples, Rafal ‘Lipek’ Lipinski, Joel ‘The Royal Guard Henry, and reigning champ Piotr ‘Grabo’ Grabowski showed out at the Dunk contest in Vienna.
It came down to Henry and Grabo, both going toe-to-toe, defying the laws of Physics further with each jam. In the end, Grabo was inevitable, clinching yet another Dunk contest title under his name.
Dunks do not get any better than the showdown we witnessed in Vienna.