Best games in FIBA 3x3 World Cup history

13 Jun 2022

ANTWERP (Belgium) - Buckle up because there are going to be some epic games at the upcoming FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2022 on June 21-26.

As we get ready for non stop action from Antwerp, let's look back at the 10 greatest games in World Cup history.

10. Italy v China (women) semi-final 2018

Italy will never forget 2018 when they conquered the world and Raelin D'Alie aka 'Rae Rae' became a mega star in 3x3-crazy Philippines.

But the Italians thought their campaign would end in tears in the semis when No.1 seed China pushed them to the limit and led 13-12 in the dying seconds. But 'Rae Rae' leveled up after a little dance followed by a sweet bucket to force OT.

Willed on by the loud Filipinos in the bleachers, who had fallen in love with the underdogs, Italy needed a hero and everyone assumed 'Rae Rae' would go cray cray.

But up stepped Marcella Filippi, who drained the buzzer beater to send Italy closer to glory.

9. Serbia v Poland (men) bronze medal 2019

If you needed any proof that Michael Hicks aka 'Money in the bank' is one of 3x3's greatest showmen, click the video below now.

This was Hicks, with swagger like the pilots in Top Gun: Maverick, at his best as he single-handedly powered Poland to the bronze and knock three-time defending champs Serbia off the podium.

Against their tormentors, Poland led by a red-hot Hicks had the upper hand for most of the game but couldn't shake off Serbia who cut it to one when Dejan Majstorovic lived up to his famous 'Maestro' nickname with an impossible deep shot with 23 seconds left.

It came down to Hicks, who lives for these moments. But he was up against Marko Savic, who has been savage on D since 3x3 started and promptly blocked Hicks' attempts at 2.

Disaster struck when Hicks was called for the technical foul and a cool Savic put Serbia in front 15-14 and it appeared these 3x3 GOATs would once again pull out an escape trick.

But it was Hicks who went all David Blaine as he initially struggled to shake off Savic before stepping back behind the arc and drawing the foul after an up fake. He threw up a Hail Mary and was all money in one of the most remarkable shots ever seen in 3x3.

He lay on the ground to enjoy his crowning moment and seconds later Poland had secured an upset for the ages and a bronze medal.

8. Serbia v Romania (men) quarter-final 2014

Dejan Majstorovic is still the 'Maestro' as he proved by recently winning MVP at the Manila Masters. Back in 2014, he was still relatively new to 3x3 but showed his first signs of greatness.

With the quarter-final against Romania up for grabs, Serbia decided to call the game-winning play for Majstorovic who didn't disappoint with an absolutely filthy Shammgod as he exploded to the rim for the easy layup.

It was a ridiculous move and Majstorovic proved from the get go in 3x3 that he was indeed the 'Maestro'.

7. Serbia v France (men) final 2012

Quite fittingly, the first World Cup featured an epic men's final. And also fittingly, OGs Serbia prevailed to fuel their dominance in 3x3's first decade led by a trio of stars who were at the core of Novi Sad's domination of the World Tour.

Deadlocked at 12 apiece against France inside the last minute, Marko Savic gave a glimpse of what lay ahead during his legendary career with a clutch performance. He hit the go-ahead two then 30 seconds later nailed a floater before sealing the deal with a tough layup as Serbia created history in Athens.

It was the first of many times they celebrated being crowned world champs.

6. Serbia v Qatar (men) final 2014

This shocker of a result still might be 3x3's greatest upset. Gulf nation Qatar, with a population of less than 3 million, were seen as having no chance against powerhouse Serbia but defied the odds in style.

Big fella Erfan Ali Saeed swatted the smaller Serbs in the paint like they were flies as Qatar believed they could achieve mission impossible. Everyone was waiting for the defending champs to flip the switch but it never happened as Qatar's D poured cold water over the Serbs.

You could have had higher lottery odds than Qatar going all the way, but their magical run meant they became the first sports team from their nation to be crowned world champs.

5. Canada v Philippines (men) 2018

The Filipino crowd might have taken J-Lo literally - they did get loud. Very loud. But it wasn't quite enough even though Roger Pogoy went bananas from deep.

The Philippines were inspired and seemingly set for a major upset as they led 18-16 in the last minute. But Michael Linklater, one of the OGs in 3x3, showed why he's a bad man with a two to mute the crowd.

Towering Christian Standhardinger tied the score by playing bully ball but Linklater wasn't done as he hit the go-ahead layup with 5 seconds left to put Canada ahead 20-19.

It proved enough in a thriller in Manila.

4. USA v France (women) final 2012

Hoops power USA were hot favorites in the first ever World Cup and lived up to the favorites tag by blowing away the competition until the business end. They survived a major scare against Australia in the semis and it was much the same against France in the see-saw of a decider.

Team USA relied on 20-year-old Chiney Ogwumike, who later became a WNBA All-Star (and now a very successful TV host!), and she delivered with a tough bucket inside to give her team a 17-15 with 5 seconds left.

But it wasn't done just yet with France's Sylvie Gruszczynski hitting a free throw to cut it to one but was unable to play hero ball on the final possession as USA hung on in 3x3's incredible opening showcase to the world.

3. Serbia v Poland (men) 2018

Before Michael Hicks gained revenge in 2019, Serbia were the masters in this rivalry and coldly knocked out Poland in 2018 with another miraculous W.

There was nothing between the teams but Poland were just a shot away when Marcin Sroka had the magic stroke to give his team a 19-17 lead. But Serbia got it back to level pegging at 19 apiece and the ball was in familiar hands.

As we found out earlier, there is good reason why Dejan Majstorovic is known as the 'Maestro'. With just two seconds on the shot clock, he called game with a banked two-point buzzer beater as Serbia cruelly beat Poland in a heartbreak en route to a three-peat of titles.

2. Spain v Hungary (women) quarter-final 2019

Hungary appeared on course to shock Spain with a 1-point lead in regulation until star Sandra Ygueravide hit a sick circus shot to force OT.

It appeared Hungary might have missed the knockout blow, particularly when Aitana Cuevas had the open bunny to put Spain into the semis. At that moment, Spain's likelihood of victory was 99% but she fluffed it and the ball fell right in the hands of assassin Dora Medgyessy, who went bang to seal Hungary a famous W.

The incredible change of fortunes at the end was proof that 3x3 games can swing wildly literally in seconds.

1. Serbia v USA (men) final 2016

The GOAT 3x3 game. No doubt. The quality of play was off the charts.

Serbia were the standard in the 21-point game but faced a mighty challenge against their highlight reel of an opponent - the high-flying, showboating USA who boasted Alfonzo McKinne and Myke Henry who were both not far from entering the NBA.

This was a game of cat and mouse with the more experienced Serbia relying on their famed chemistry and shredding the USA's D with perfect passing, but the Americans hung around due to their ridiculous individual skills, which had melted down social media all tournament.

It predictably came down to the wire and it was time for Dusan Bulut to step up.

With just a two needed for victory, Bulut decided to finish it off by himself as he went to work on Henry on the right side before stepping back and draining the two-piece to deliver arguably Serbia's best World Cup victory of their four titles.

It triggered a pumped up Bulut to launch into the crowd knowing he and his country remained the best in the business. Even though they fell short, Team USA have not been forgotten and at least can lay claim to being arguably the most entertaining team ever assembled on the half court.