Princeton here to stay after claiming Notorious Games 3x3 Cergy-Pontoise Challenger
12 Jul 2021
CERGY-PONTOISE (France) – After their stars fell short of their Olympic dreams and considered 3x3 retirement, Princeton (USA) sent a strong message that they're still a force to be reckon with by qualifying for the Montreal Masters with victory at the Notorious Games Cergy-Pontoise Challenger on July 10-11, 2021.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Princeton (USA)
They were: No.1 in highlights and equal second in points per game
Much to the shock of the world, hoops power USA failed to qualify in Graz for the Olympics in a stunner that send shockwaves around the globe.
Shrugging off that disappointment, Robbie Hummel and Kareem Maddox were on a mission like they were in MI 7 and fueled Princeton to their first triumph of the pro season in Cergy-Pontoise.
It appeared more misery was headed their way after the No.3 seed got off to a slow start with an opening loss to 11th seed Raudondvaris Tauras (LTU). But they regrouped quickly and qualified out of the pool stage with a 22-14 beat down of Nantes (FRA).
Princeton, who were World Tour Final 2019 runner-ups, lifted a level in the knockout stages, which started when they overcame compatriots and No.1 seed NY Harlem (USA) 19-16 in an arm-wrestle. The dynamic duo of Hummel and Maddox were the difference with a combined 13 points.
In the semis, the Americans overcame the challenge from the always dangerous Lausanne Sport (SUI) 21-15 with Hummel shooting twos from the other side of the Atlantic.
In the final, Princeton won a rematch with Raudondvaris in a 21-19 thriller, where Canyon Barry - the son of NBA legend and underhand free throw extraordinaire Rick Barry - stepped up with a hot-shooting performance in a game-high 7 points.
Hummel, the World Cup 2019 MVP, who contemplated 3x3 retirement after Graz, reminded everyone that he is one of the best in the business with an MVP performance where he led the tournament in points (39) and player value (42.9).
It was a fairy tale run for Lithuania's newest 3x3 sensation, who went all the way from the qualifying draw to within a basket of the title.
Having impressed in Poitiers with competitive performances against Ub (SRB) and compatriots Sakiai (LTU), it all clicked into gear in Cergy-Pontoise.
They made a statement against Princeton and then had an easy win over Nantes in the pool stage.
Then it got tough at the business end with Raudondvaris surviving a thriller in the quarters against Paris (FRA) with Sarunas Beniusis the hero with ice in his veins in the clutch.
The Lithuanians then poured cold water on red-hot Antwerp, who had more hype coming into the tournament than Black Widow. They won 19-16 in the semis before their magical run ended in heartbreaking fashion against Princeton.