How Novi Sad turned the tables on Princeton at FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final 2019
29 Apr 2020
MIES (Switzerland) – Novi Sad completely owned 2018 but found last year challenging during a more competitive and talented FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
One of their biggest rivals was Princeton, who came of age in 2019 and rode the red hot form of former NBA player Robbie Hummel. The brash Americans were not scared of the defending World Tour Final champions and were gunning for Novi Sad’s crown all season.
The teams split the six matches played before the World Tour Final in Utsunomiya, including perhaps most memorably Princeton winning a classic semi-final at the Los Angeles Masters – without Hummel.
The teams played a heavyweight contest during the pool stage of the Utsunomiya Final, where Princeton handed the sluggish Serbs a 19-10 beatdown.
After nearly bowing out of the tournament on Day 1, Novi Sad were a different team in the knockout stages and made it through to the final where their rival Princeton waited.
The re-match had more hype than The Last Dance. But the script spectacularly flipped with Novi Sad winning a thriller 21-17 to win their fourth World Tour title.
How did it switch so dramatically in just 24 hours? Let's ask Slovenian 3x3 national team coach Matic Vidic for his expert analysis.
"(In the pool game) Novi Sad had 10 turnovers - out of 38 possessions they turned over 26% of possessions and also had a lot of missed open shots (0/9 2pts)," he says.
"Novi Sad didn't seem to play hard in that game. Poor defense, bad handwork and problems solving picks (on-ball, off-ball)."
Novi Sad undoubtedly had a historically bad performance - it was their lowest points total ever in the World Tour - but Princeton also deserved a lot of credit, according to Vidic.
"Princeton played smart defense (no foul trouble), controlled rebounds and somehow managed to stop Novi Sad's passing game, who did not have easy baskets," he says.
"Princeton scored some contested shots in crucial moments of the game. All Princeton players scored a two-pointer."
After such a disastrous loss, Novi Sad were written off but never underestimate the heart of a champion! Through guts and self-belief, they defied the critics and qualified for the final, where they turned the tables on the confident Princeton.
"In the final, Novi Sad played much harder defense," Vidic says. "Novi Sad scored many easy baskets and got a lot of advantages with mismatches on (Damon) Huffman through (Dejan) Majstorovic and (Tamas) Ivosev."
Vidic also says Princeton's foul trouble - which Novi Sad made them pay with a perfect 7-of-7 from the line - and reliance on Hummel proved detrimental for the Americans who fell agonizingly short of winning their first World Tour title.
Which helps explain Novi Sad's incredible 24-hour transformation and retention of the World Tour's crown.