The No.1 seeds were almost shocked first up against Filipino team Balanga Chooks (PHI) but held on to win a thriller 21-20. The scare woke Liman up and they clicked into gear with a tough victory over Moscow Inanomo (RUS) 21-18 in a high-quality quarter-final.
In a blockbuster semi-final against Princeton (USA), who had been inspired by the USA’s gold medal at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019, Stefan Kojic was too hot to handle and his game-high 12 points proved the difference in Liman’s 21-15 victory.
The final was a rematch of last month’s Ulaanbaatar decider but this time Liman proved too strong with a 18-14 win as they tasted sweet revenge after being upstaged in Mongolia.
Number 1 in points per game, one point % and free throw %
With so much firepower, Liman overwhelmed their opponents with scoring punch and only against Zemun’s smothering defense did they not reach 21 points.
Loaded with options, particularly with Kojic and Mihailo Vasic pouring in buckets, Liman were able to continue easing back superstar Stefan Stojacic who played just his second tournament after a lengthy layoff due to a calf injury.
The world No.9 continue to trouble teams with their formidable defense. They looked headed for a tough tournament after a beat down by Beijing in the pool stage but stepped things up on the defensive end when it mattered most with Ulaanbaatar (MGL) and Gagarin (RUS) barely able to score.
Scoring struggles: Zemun aren’t quite as polished on offense and rely on contributors across the board, which was the key to their triumph in Ulaanbaatar. In Haining, they couldn’t quite get the spread with much of the burden falling on Lazar Rasic, who finished with a team high 5.8 points per game.
The Final: Liman 18-Zemun 14
After a slow start cost them dearly in Ulaanbaatar, a determined Liman went looking for early buckets. They pounded the ball inside to the reliable Mihalio Vasic, who bullied through Zemun’s imposing defense as Liman raced out to a 5-1 lead.
But they suffered a scoring drought and Zemun capitalized with the next 5 points punctuated by a splash from the deep end by a wet Lazar Rasic as the underdogs took the lead.
It was a close battle with both teams playing terrific defense. Eventually, Liman’s class prevailed and they pulled away in the final stages through Stefan Kojic’s relentless attacks to the rim.
A Stefan Stojacic dagger from another postcode sealed the deal and Liman celebrated the title.
The reward: Two tickets to the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Montreal Masters
Liman and Zemun will join world No.1 Novi Sad (SRB) and Piran (SLO) for the Montreal Masters on September 7-8 in the eighth stop on this season’s FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
Final Standings: 1. Liman (SRB) 2. Zemun (SRB) 3. Gagarin (RUS) 4. Princeton (USA) 5. Beijing (CHN)
Top Scorers: 1. Stefan Kojic (Liman, SRB) 38 pts 2. Stanislav Sharov (Gagarin, RUS) 30 pts 3. Lazar Rasic (Zemun, SRB) 29 pts - Alexander Zakharov (Sosnovy Bor, RUS) 29 pts 5. Mihailo Vasic (Liman, SRB) 28 pts
Key Stats: - The top four seeds all made it through to the semi-finals. - The 10 fastest games in the tournament came before the knockout stages. After that, the fastest game was the quarter-final between Liman and Moscow Inanomo (9’22” of playing time). - Alexander Zakharov was sensational for Sosnovy Bor averaging a tournament high 9.7 points per game. He also won the shoot-out contest. - Stefan Kojic led champions Liman with 38 points overall but he was not just effective. He was also highly entertaining as showcased by averaging 3.6 highlights per game.