The Jeddah Final Power Rankings: Which teams are best placed for 3x3’s biggest prize?
8 Dec 2020
JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) - The World Tour 2020 will finish with a bang on December 18-19, as 12 teams fight for 3x3's biggest title at the Jeddah Final.
Let's try to power rank these teams even though, of course, we know that anything is possible at the unpredictable game of 3x3.
1. Liman (SRB)
We can't disrespect them. While it's tempting to have Riga or two-time defending World Tour winners Novi Sad on top, world No.1 Liman deserve this spot.
They won the Debrecen and Europe Masters, and were just one point away from triumphing in Doha. Stefan Stojacic aka 'Mr Robot' has returned sensationally and lifted Liman to another level.
For all their success over the years, one thing is missing from Liman's trophy cabinet - the World Tour Final title. Even more shocking, they have fallen well short having exited at the quarter-final stage three years in a row.
Success at this showpiece event is what ultimately separates them from their Serbian foe Novi Sad but expect Liman to be determined and extra hungry.
Liman are the team with the most Masters wins (7) without a World Tour trophy. But this stat may come to an end next week.
2. Riga (LAT)
Alongside Liman, the Latvians dominated the regular season winning the Hungary Masters and the recently concluded Doha Masters, where they somehow defeated Liman in a better comeback than Mike Tyson's return to the ring.
Karlis Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis split MVP honors in those triumphs to prove they are the best one-two punch in the business. But it's dangerous just focusing on the superhero duo with sharpshooter Edgars Krumins heating up Doha, while Agnis Cavars is the glue guy.
Riga could have easily taken out top spot. After all, they knocked Liman out of the World Tour Final the past two years but have never won the event having reached the decider in 2018 before losing to Novi Sad.
Riga will be extremely confident of making history in Jeddah... where they won a Masters (without Lasmanis) last season.
3. Novi Sad (SRB)
It's almost become fashionable to write off Novi Sad. They failed to reach the final in three attempts in Hungary - though made two semis - and will be without 3x3's best player Dusan Bulut in Saudi Arabia.
But it's hardly mission impossible for them. They've won 4 out of 5 times without 'Mr Bullutproof' in the past and still have a bucket load of talent - led by Dejan Majstorovic who seems to always become 'the Maestro' when his co-star isn't playing.
Most importantly, Novi Sad have made the World Tour Final their personal playground having won the event an incredible four times, including the past two.
On the biggest stage, they continually bring their best under pressure - most notably last year when Novi Sad recovered from a shaky start to dominate the knockout stages.
Don't write them off just yet.
4. NY Harlem (USA)
Throw their horrendous performance in Doha out the window. The New Yorkers only scored 15 points in 2 blowout losses but played without a sub and were missing Kidani Brutus and Joey King.
Their solid performance in Hungary - marked by two semis - is a much better indication. King was a walking bucket, while Marcel Esonwune once again dominated the air. Last year's regular season MVP Dominique Jones was streaky but if he can find consistency in Jeddah then NY Harlem can go all the way.
5. Utena Uniclub (LTU)
The new kids on the block have stolen the show this season. On their World Tour debut, Utena Uniclub stormed through to the Debrecen Masters final after knocking out compatriots Sakiai, Amsterdam and Riga.
Ignas Vaitkus quickly proved to be a superstar but there were still doubts whether the Lithuanians were the real deal. Utena proved Debrecen wasn't a fluke with a semi-final finish in Doha, where they looked even more potent.
Newcomer Zygimantas Skucas aka 'the Lithuanian Rodman' became a crowd favorite but also provided Vaitkus much-needed support.
Utena Uniclub might actually be too good to be considered a dark horse. They are surely one of the favorites.
6. Jeddah (KSA)
You want a dark horse? Maybe it's Jeddah. They can fly under the radar because they don't have a superstar but these dudes are consistent. Jeddah made the knockout stages of all three events they've played this season highlighted by a semi-final finish last start in Doha.
This is an even team but Nemanja Draskovic and Kevin Corre have the ability to light up opponents in any game. Jeddah made the quarters of last year's World Tour Final but should be better for the experience.
And Jeddah should gain an extra lift from playing on their own turf and not going through the whole flying carousel.
7. Lausanne Katapult (SUI)
These talented Swiss have long teased but might finally be reaching their potential. After struggling at the Hungary Masters, Lausanne Katapult made the semis at the Europe Masters followed by the quarters in Doha.
It was more than enough for them to book a ticket to their first World Tour Final. It's a stage that should suit them with the Swiss having delivered several memorable upsets over the years but inconsistency has been a problem.
Boasting speedy Gilles Martin and Westher Molteni, Lausanne have the firepower to frighten anyone.
Never underestimate these slick Slovenians, who are World Tour Final regulars. Since becoming Piran in 2016, they've made four straight quarters in this event.
Highlighting their consistency, Piran made three straight quarters in Hungary.
There appears to be a ceiling with this team and perhaps they don't quite have the offensive punch of others, especially with Simon Finzgar out in Jeddah. But Piran have chemistry and experience - two highly important characteristics for the World Tour Final.
9. Sakiai (LTU)
Don't forget these lethal Lithuanians. They might have been slightly overshadowed by their countrymen Utena Uniclub, but Sakiai have proved last year's breakout season - including making the quarters at the World Tour Final - was no fluke.
After a slow start in Hungary, they found form at the Europe Masters with a runners-up finish from qualification marked by impressive wins over NY Harlem and Lausanne.
Sarunas Vingelis and Aurelijus Pukelis dominated throughout with a one-two scoring punch. Without the injured Marijus Uzupis, the Lithuanians will need to rely on pick-and-roll savant Paulius Beliavicius and newcomer Saulius Kulvietis
10. Ub (SRB)
Ub, formerly known as Vrbas, stormed to the final of the Hungary Masters, where they lost a thriller 21-20 to Riga whom they had beaten in the pool stage. The Serbs also memorably beat Novi Sad in the semis.
They struggled in Doha with just 3 players but Ub should be feared because they have a balanced team led by Ivan Popovic and Strahinja Stojacic. This is a deep team marked by scintillating scoring and defensive mastery. Not to mention a new potential 3x3 star in Miroslav Pasaljic.
11. Amsterdam (NED)
The Dutch Masters had a nervous wait during the Doha Masters but breathed a sigh of relief after finishing the regular season standings in 12th position. They only played at the Debrecen Masters but impressed after beating Novi Sad on Day 1 before falling to Utena Uniclub in a quarter-final thriller.
They have household names, including Dimeo Van der Horst who can be the best player on the court when he's feeling it.
Perhaps Amsterdam will be a bit rusty, but they've done it on this stage before having made the semis in 2018, where they lost a thriller to Riga.
12. Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL)
History will be made for everyone's favorite underdog team Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy. The Mongolians have been a proven team for years but never made the World Tour Final until now.
They've won a Challenger last year and did push NY Harlem to a tight game in the quarter-finals of the Hungary Masters.
But the form slump of Delgernyam Davaasambuu, who scored just 12 points overall and committed almost as many turnovers (9), was a little concerning.
But they boast 4 of Mongolia's 5 best 3x3 players and have been waiting a long time for this moment.
And if Davaasambuu can get going then Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy might be able to add another success story for Mongolia.