RIO DE JANEIRO (3x3) - For the second year in a row, Team Sao Paulo DC lands in Rio as the number one seed at the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Rio de Janeiro Masters, which takes place on Saturday-Sunday 27-28 September.
To improve on last season's fifth place, the towering Gustavo Bracco (2.05m) will have to show two other Brazilian teams why his team-mate Guilherme Afonso and himself are ranked the number one and two 3x3 players in the country in Pool A.
A successful preparation and a few key changes improved Sao Paulo DC's status from outsider to team to beat.
Bracco explains: "We weren't prepared for my injury and finishing fifth last year. It was very disappointing. Because of our bad result, we had a specific training and mental preparation. We decided that 2014 had to be our year. We made some adjustments, and invited Juninho and Fejao Pereira to play with us. They are great players who brought us to another level."
His team had an impressive season winning two Rio Masters qualifiers in Sao Paulo and in Neuquen (Argentina) just two weeks ago. However, Sao Paulo DC will have to fight for Brazilian supremacy as today's seeding placed them in the same pool as the two best teams from the upcoming CBB 3x3 Tour, whose final will be staged in Rio de Janeiro on 27 September, on the eve of the Rio Masters.
The seeding is conducted automatically according to the 3x3 individual World ranking (of the three best players from each team). According to the regulations, the number one seed meets the number eight and number nine seeds in Pool A.
With the CBB 3x3 Tour qualifying five teams for the event, the squads were seeded eighth to twelfth. They appear as BRA 1 to BRA 5 now but will be renamed to city names after the event takes place on Friday.
In Pool B, Team Montevideo (URU) - starring Fernando Gutierrez, the number one 3x3 player in Uruguay - will battle it out with Team Concordia (ARG) who finished second at the Tour de basquet 3x3 Argentina and the third best team from the CBB 3x3 Tour Final.
Pool C will see the first-ever Ecuadorian team at the FIBA 3x3 World Tour with the number six seed Quito who will face Team La Plata (ARG), the winners of the Tour de basquet 3x3 Argentina this season, on top of the fourth best team in Brazil.
The best team in Venezuela will meet Team Neuquen (ARG) in Pool D. Feels like déjà-vu? It was the final of the 2013 Rio Masters. Both teams have changed with Team La Guaira defeating last year’s champions Caracas in the final of the Venezuelan Tour and Neuquen being rejuvenated. Both teams will face the fifth best team of the CBB 3x3 Tour.
Pool games will start at 11:00 local time (14:00 GMT/16:00 CET) on Saturday. The top-two placed teams from each pool advance to a standard knock-out round which starts at the quarter-finals stage, from 16:00 local time (19:00 GMT/21:00 CET).
On Sunday from 10:15 local time (13:15 GMT/15:15 CET) to 11:45 (14:45/16:45), Brazilian broadcaster SporTV will broadcast live the semi-finals, the Dunk Contest final and the Rio Masters Final.
All games will also be livestreamed on FIBA 3x3’s official YouTube channel.
Pool A: Sao Paulo DC (BRA, 1); BRA 1 (BRA, 8); BRA 2 (BRA, 9)
Pool B: Montevideo (URU, 2); Concordia (ARG, 7); BRA 3 (BRA, 10)
Pool C: La Plata (ARG, 3); Quito (ECU, 6); BRA 4 (BRA, 11)
Pool D: La Guaira (VEN, 4); Neuquen (ARG, 5); BRA 5 (BRA, 12)