Riga and Gagarin set to clash in mouth-watering start to FIBA 3x3 World Tour Chengdu Masters
28 May 2019
CHENGDU (China) - The FIBA 3x3 World Tour returns in exciting fashion with a pool clash between 2 of the best teams in the world for the second Masters of the season in Chengdu on June 1-2.
Perhaps the most anticipated game on day one of action will be between No.3 seeds Riga Ghetto (LAT) and No.6 Gagarin (RUS), who headline Pool C which also features West Melbourne Stateside from Australia, which includes Lucas Walker who won the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup last weekend.
Riga Ghetto are riding a wave of confidence after winning the first Masters of the season in Doha but will have a tough early challenge against Gagarin led by No.1 Russian player Alexander Zuev, who can win games single-handedly with his Wifi range.
The teams have an emerging rivalry after Riga beat Gagarin in the final of the Wuxi Challenger last month and they also tasted victory in the Bloomage Final last year.
Novi Sad (SRB) have been seeded No.1 and will be pitted in Pool A against Edmonton (CAN) and local favorites Chengdu (CHN). Novi Sad amazingly were unbeaten during the World Tour Masters last year but 2019 has proved to be more difficult after they lost to Liman in the semi-finals in Doha.
Novi Sad will be without superstar Dusan Bulut and that could leave them vulnerable against in-form Edmonton, who won the Nanjing Challenger last month.
The newly formed team pushed Novi Sad to the limit in an epic final of the Penang Challenger but will be hoping to do even better in Chengdu.
Serbian powerhouse Liman were seeded No.2 and headline Pool B, where they will play foes Ljubljana (SLO). Liman continue to be without the services of injured star Stefan Stojacic aka Mr Robot and now will have to play without his second in command Aleksandar Ratkov. Auckland (NZL) round out the pool and will be out to spoil the party.
The intrigue in Pool D is centered on No.4 seeds Amsterdam (NED) – fresh off a strong runners-up performance at the Kunshan Challenger - and No.5 Princeton (USA) who always bring it. The final spot in Pool D will go to the winners of the qualifying draw comprising Lufeng (CHN), Beijing (CHN) and Dnipro (UKR).
The 12 participating teams compete for USD $75,000 and points to climb up the World Tour standings. Unlike last year, the Masters winners do not qualify directly to the World Tour Final. The top 12 teams in the standings after the last Masters will head to Utsunomiya, Japan where the final will be played on November 2-3.