EDMONTON (Canada) – NY Harlem (USA) flexed their muscles with a thrashing of world No.1 Novi Sad (SRB) to win the Edmonton Challenger for the second straight year.
Here's what happened.
The winners: NY Harlem (USA)
No.1 in points per game, points allowed per game and rebounds.
The total dominance of Eastern European teams looks over. A highly talented but inconsistent team previously, NY Harlem have become a powerhouse on the World Tour this season.
The Lausanne Masters champions have been particularly dominant on the Challenger circuit and Edmonton proved no exception.
Even without superstar Dominique Jones, NY Harlem had too much firepower underlined by winning every game bar one under the time limit. The New Yorkers have the swagger when the stakes are raised and showed their love for the big stage by thrashing compatriots Princeton (USA) in the semis and then comfortably defeating Novi Sad in a surprisingly one-sided final.
Kidani Brutus was unstoppable and topped the overall scoring charts with 40 points, but he had plenty of support from Antoinne Morgano and David Seagers.
And we can't forget high-flyer Marcel Esonwune, who once again provided the above the rim highlights.
As we approach the pointy end of the World Tour season, NY Harlem have their sights set on the ultimate prize.
The runners-up: Novi Sad (SRB)
The world No.1 had another successful tournament and booked a berth to the Nanjing Masters. But their thrashing in the final would have left a sour taste. Unlike last year's magical season, Novi Sad are being stared down by opponents who clearly aren't intimidated.
The Serbs were at full-strength but Dejan Majstorovic and Marko Savic had subpar tournaments and ultimately Novi Sad couldn't survive that.
Even though the ending was disappointing, Novi Sad had memorable thrilling wins in the knockout stages against Jeddah (KSA) and Edmonton (CAN) to reach the final.
Inside and outside threat: Novi Sad still made a deep run largely through the efforts of big man Tamas Ivosev who beasted inside all tournament, while Dusan Bulut performed his usual magic tricks.
The Final: NY Harlem 21-Novi Sad 10
This was the match-up everyone was waiting for. Dusan Bulut gave Novi Sad a fast start with a bomb from long range but that was as good as it got for the Serbs. They couldn't dictate with their physicality as NY Harlem's athleticism proved too difficult to stop.
Marcel Esonwune had Dejan Majstorovic aka the Maestro in a body bag with a huge facial to kick-start NY Harlem. He then continued to make the Maestro a meme with a thunderous block as NY Harlem completely overwhelmed their stunned opponents.
When Kidani Brutus started to heat up, it was a wrap. He nailed five two-pieces, including one after an outrageous ankle breaker on Bulut who received a taste of his own medicine.
Brutus finished with 11 points as NY Harlem continued to prove their status as a 3x3 powerhouse team.
The reward: Two tickets to the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Nanjing Masters
Novi Sad and third-placed Edmonton (CAN) join Liman (SRB), Sakiai Gulbele (LTU) Riga Ghetto (LAT), Team Amsterdam (NED), New York City (USA) and already qualified NY Harlem to have booked spots for Nanjing on October 12-13.
1. NY Harlem (USA)
2. Novi Sad (SRB)
3. Edmonton (CAN)
4. Princeton (USA)
5. Sosnovy Bor CopRosatom (RUS)
1. Kidani Brutus (NY Harlem, USA) 40 pts
2. Kareem Maddox (NY Harlem, USA) 36 pts
3. Tamas Ivosev (Novi Sad, SRB) 33 pts
4. Dusan Bulut (Novi Sad, SRB) 32 pts
5. Steve Sir (Edmonton, CAN) 28 pts
- No.4 seeds Vrbas (SRB) were the only top four seed to miss the semis with hometown team Edmonton making it from fifth.
- The much anticipated final between NY Harlem and Novi Sad proved an anti-climax and was the fastest game of the tournament. (6'09" of playing time).
- NY Harlem's Marcel Esonwune was once again dominant in the air and finished the overall leader in rebounds, blocks and dunks.
- Novi Sad fell short but not through a lack of effort from Tamas Ivosev and Dusan Bulut, who combined for 65 points. They were both particularly deadly from one-point range with Bulut shooting at 88% and Ivosev not far behind at 84%.
Next Challenger: Jeju Challenger (October 5-6)