HUAIAN (China) - NY Harlem (USA) won their second Challenger of the season after edging out Lausanne (SUI) in the final of the Huaian Challenger on July 20-21 2019.
Here's how it played out:
Playing without their leader Disco Domo Jones, NY Harlem still found a way to win their 2nd Challenger of the season, 1 month after their success in Limassol (CYP). The New Yorkers had to grind in the pool phase to even make it to the quarter-finals after dropping their opener against Lausanne (SUI). On Day 2, they navigated past the #3 team in the world Riga Ghetto (LAT), Tokyo Dime (JPN) and took their revenge over Lausanne in the final. The Americans beasted inside (114 total rebounds, 40 more than anyone else) and led the event in free throws made. For his first ever appearance, the former Minnesota Gopher Joey King led the team in scoring and was named MVP of the Huaian Challenger.
Team Lausanne may not have finished #1 in the standings but they easily finished #1 in highlights. Westher Molteni was #1 in blocks while Natan Jurkovitz led the way in dunks. Jurkovitz was the only player who recorded a triple-five in China with 9 rebounds, 6 points and 5 highlights in the pool phase win against NY Harlem.
But none of them actually topped the team in scoring. The sharpshooter Marco Lehmann aka 'The Marksman' was the tournament's top scorer with 34 points, including 13 shots from outside the arc on a pretty 50% clip.
It was hard to tell Lausanne beat NY Harlem on Day 1 as the New Yorkers' lead ballooned to 11-2 after 3 minutes. The Swiss team switched gear and started a 7-nothing run and tied the game at 12 on a Gilles Martin 2-pointer. Antoinne Morgano then took his responsibilities and scored back-to-back twos to bring back NY Harlem on top. With the score at 19-17, Joey King thought he scored the winning bucket but his foot was on the line and Lausanne gave the Americans a late scare. Morgano drove to the rack, missed but the stocky Kidani Brutus tipped in the offensive board for the tournament.
NY Harlem won $15,000 USD. Together with Lausanne, they qualified for the World Tour Montreal Masters on September 7-8. Liman (SRB), Novi Sad (SRB), Piran (SLO), Ralja Intergalactic (SRB), Sakiai (LTU) and Zemun (SRB) have already qualified.
1. NY Harlem (USA)
2. Lausanne (SUI)
3. Tokyo Dime (JPN)
4. Beijing (CHN)
5. Gagarin (RUS)
1. Marco Lehmann (Lausanne) 34pts
2. Joey King (NY Harlem) 30pts
3. Natan Jurkovitz (Lausanne) 29pts
4. Tomoya Ochiai (Tokyo Dime) 28pts
5. Antoinne Morgano (NY Harlem) 28pts
Gagarin? Not the kind of team to just chill out on the court. The Russian team played 3 games in Huaian. All of them were in the top 4 fastest games of the tournament.
Who said 10 minutes weren't enough to record a proper double-double? Tiras Wade (ZhongGang EDU, CHN) tallied 11 points and 13 rebounds in a pool loss vs. Tokyo Dime (JPN).
The times of the European domination of 3x3 are definitely over. Besides NY Harlem's win, Tokyo Dime beat former World Tour winners Ljubljana and Beijing (CHN) shut down Gagarin (RUS) in the quarter-finals of the challenger.
Speaking of that Tokyo team, Tomoya Ochiai buried the only buzzer beater in the entire tournament in an OT win vs, ZhongGang EDU to make it to the quarter-finals.