LANZHOU (China) – Hosts China and defending women's champions Russia confirmed their title favoritism on Day 2 of the FIBA 3x3 U23 World Cup on October 3.
In the women's category, No.1 seeds Russia successfully started their title defense but were pushed by Belarus and the Czech Republic. The No.1 seeds needed a big game from Ekaterina Polyashova (7 points) to edge past Belarus 15-12 but were challenged even more by No.16 seeds Czech Republic.
They trailed from the get go and looked set for a surprising defeat when trailing 18-15. But a composed Russia scored the last six points to pull out a gritty comeback victory with star Olga Frolkina the hero with 10 points.
In Pool C, Romania stole the show with a perfect Day 2. After easily defeating Uganda, the No.6 seeds stunned No.3 seeds Mongolia in an overtime classic.
Tserenlkham Munkhsaikhan put the Mongolians ahead with a sweet reverse layup only for Alina-Maria Podar (12 points) to call game with the Tissot Buzzer Beater.
There will be Pool B and D action on Day 3.
In the men's bracket, No.2 seeds China ensured the home fans made plenty of noise with comfortable victories over Romania (21-16) and Kazakhstan (21-9). Star Peng Yan was dominant against Romania with a game-high 8 points and then was a one-man highlight reel against Kazakhstan.
A spectacular Peng Yan block followed by a two-piece made the crowd party like it was China's National Day and he fittingly ended the game with another two-pointer.
Last year's silver medalist Latvia also impressed in Pool B with victories over Kazakhstan (21-15) and the USA (21-14).
Brazil flexed their muscles with victories over Italy (16-13) and Kyrgyzstan (20-14) to set the pace in Pool C. No.3 seeds Qatar continued to struggle after falling 17-14 to Italy and remaining winless.
The Netherlands and Serbia have taken Pool D by storm after strong showings. The Netherlands overcame South Korea 21-16 and then produced a vital 20-17 victory over No.4 seeds Mongolia.
Mack Bruining was unstoppable from deep and drained four shots from behind the arc to prove the Dutchman are a serious medal contender.
No.13 seeds Serbia proved they could have a deep run in China after beating Lithuania (19-12) and Mongolia (21-18).
There will be men's games from Pool A and C on Day 3.