Everything you need to know before FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2023
VIENNA (Austria) - The wait is almost over as excitement builds for the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2023 on May 30-June 4.
There are 40 teams arriving in Austria's historic capital of Vienna hoping to be crowned world champions and their dreams will be on the line at the eighth edition of 3x3's showpiece event played at Rathausplatz.
Where can I watch?
Who is competing?
There are a whopping 40 teams – 20 per gender – competing in Vienna, who qualified through being hosts (Austria), winning a Zone Cup from the previous year or by claiming a ticket at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup Qualifier 2023.
What are the pools?
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Who are the favorites?
In this unpredictable game, where 25% of the games are decided by just one single basket, anything is possible.
But that just makes Serbia's domination in the men's event even more extraordinary. They've won five of the previous seven World Cups in one of the most stunning records across all sports.
Serbia are the defending champs having regained their crown last year in Antwerp and will bring back the same line-up, including Ub Huishan NE's trio of Strahinja Stojacic, Dejan Majstorovic and Marko Brankovic who have already lit up the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2023.
But there are plenty of challengers starting with No.2 seeds USA aiming to restore the reputation of the hoops power after a few tough exit last year in the quarter-finals
They've loaded up with a couple of big guns you may have heard of - former NBA player and fan favorite Jimmer Fredette is teaming up with Dylan Travis and 3x3 World Cup winners Kareem Maddox and Canyon Barry.
It's hard to believe Latvia have never won a World Cup considering this 3x3 powerhouse have won almost every other trophy on offer.
You just know superheroes Karlis Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis will be tapping into their superpowers to win the medal they've always wanted.
Other European heavyweights Belgium, Netherlands, Lithuania, France and hosts Austria will also have gold in their sights, while FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023 champs Mongolia are looking for another W just two months after their heroics in Singapore.
In the women's, defending champs France should feel good about repeating after an incredible 2022 and they are again led by last year's MVP Laetitia Guapo.
But this is the toughest women's field we've seen with a number of teams justifiably believing they are favorites. Canada have been a force for years and came oh so close from singing O Canada last year when they won the silver medal.
Former champs USA will be out to regain the crown and will once again boast a star-studded line-up, but the most in-form teams are probably coming from Asia.
Asia Cup 2023 champs Australia will bring back a trio of stars from their blitz in Singapore, while former World Cup winners China have looked the goods in the early stages of the FIBA 3x3 Women's Series 2023 with Lili Wang a walking bucket.
A slew of European powers will also fancy their chances including Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Spain.
Who are the players to watch?
We'll be here all day if we listed them all, but here's a taste of the best of the best.
In the men's, there is no one hotter on the World Tour than No.1 ranked player Strahinja Stojacic from Serbia who has started the season with back-to-back MVPs.
His partner-in-crime Dejan Majstorovic is more successful than anyone on the big stage with the 'Maestro' having won four World Cups previously and this dude is playing better than ever.
If they aren't the best duo then it's probably Latvia's Nauris Miezis and Karlis Lasmanis, who now combine for Beijing on the World Tour but their one-two punch still packs a deadly whack.
Or it could be flying Dutchman Worthy de Jong, who can dunk on dudes a head taller because his vertical leap is off the charts.
If shooting is more your thing then you're in for a treat because we have a couple of absolutely cold-blooded assassins who would make 007 blush.
Thibaut Vervoort from Belgium is a big game player, while Nauris Miezis has hit some of the greatest daggers ever seen in 3x3.
In the women's, Laetitia Guapo from France will be out to repeat her MVP performance from 12 months ago and you would be foolish to bet against one of the best to ever do it.
There are plenty of wonder women who are unstoppable in the paint, including Canada's Michelle Plouffe and Sonja Greinacher of Germany.
But if you want to see those smaller in stature own the half-court then look no further than walking bucket Lili Wang, who is on fire to start the season and she will be out to create a heat wave in Vienna.
If you want some grit and passion then you'll instantly fall in love with Marena Whittle, who sparks Australia through her relentless rebounds, hustle and boundless energy.
There are plenty of players with insane skills, but we just have to mention Egypt's Soraya Mohamed who can perform magic tricks with the Wilson.
The 'African Queen' is out for global domination and we can't wait to see who sits on 3x3's throne as the best of the best square off in Vienna.