Best moments in FIBA 3x3 World Cup history

15 Jun 2022

ANTWERP (Belgium) - There will be crazy moments added to FIBA 3x3 World Cup's rich history at the upcoming seventh edition of the showpiece event in Antwerp on June 21-26.

Before then, let's look back a the 10 best moments so far.


2012: Serbia and USA win first-ever titles

History was made in August 2012 in Athens with the first-ever 3x3 World Cup and two hoops powers made statements from the get go.

Serbia had a trio of names that would dominate the first decade of 3x3 and make up the bulk of legendary Novi Sad - Dusan Bulut, Marko Savic and Marko Zdero.

They had a slow start losing early to Slovenia - another 3x3 pioneer - before clicking into gear with their most impressive victory over a USA team boasting big fella Ira Brown, who would later dazzle with his adopted country Japan.

As they would repeat numerously over the years, Serbia were all money in winning time as they prevailed in a tight semi-final over Ukraine then France in the final.

It was their first World Cup celebration but would not be their last.

While their male counterparts were slow off the block, the USA women's team adjusted seamlessly with an unbeaten campaign marked by several thrashings, including a 21-2 whooping of the Netherlands.

It was easier than 1-2-3 until the business end when they were pushed to the limit by Australia in the semis and then France in the final, But led by future WNBA All-Stars Skylar Diggins-Smith, Bria Hartley and Chiney Ogwumike, USA won both thrillers by 1 point to prove they could be No.1 in the 21-point game.

2014: Qatar make history with gold; USA women's undefeated

Want proof that the impossible can happen in 3x3? Well Gulf nation Qatar, with a population of less than 3 million, did exactly that by shocking the world after going all the way in Moscow.

A title run looked out of the question after a first up loss to Romania but they steadily built confidence culminating in a tense 14-13 victory over Lithuania in the semis. The fairy tale was complete when Qatar stunned reigning champ Serbia 18-13 in the final in a result that remains one of the biggest ever upsets in 3x3.

And proved to the world that there are no certainties on the half court.

Led by 3x3 OGs Cierra Burdick - who made world headlines after throwing down a dunk during warm ups - and Jewell Lloyd, USA were hot favorites to repeat and they did not disappoint with one of the most ruthless campaigns ever put together at a World Cup.

Only two teams could get within four points of mighty USA, who dazzled like they were on the Harlem Globetrotters. Their athleticism overwhelmed opponents who needed to go back to the class room after being taught a 3x3 lesson.

USA went back-to-back and capped an unbeaten 18-game winning streak across the first two World Cups.

2016: USA sparkles in dunk fest

After two underwhelming World Cup campaigns, USA men's decided to load up like Schwarzenegger on the beach in Commando.

Boasting high-flying Alfonzo McKinnie and dynamic Myke Henry, both of whom were soon in the NBA, USA lit up China with a highlight reel filled with slams worthy of being in the dunk contests, insane dimes and non-stop showboating to become instant fan favorites.

They clowned opponents but fell short of the title after losing to Serbia in an all-time classic final. Still, no one will ever forget the entertainment put together from the USA who showed the world that the craziest party can be completed in 10 minutes.

Sit back and enjoy these plays - some of which remain the best ever seen in 3x3.

2016: Czechia women shock the world by winning gold

It was time for a major shock in the women's and underdog Czechia provided it with an incredible dream like run.

But it wasn't fantasy with the Czechs recovering from an early thrashing from France to roll through the tournament, including a major semi-final upset of USA who were seeking a three-peat.

Michaela Uhrova's two piece called game and remains one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

With more confidence than Maverick in Top Gun, the Czechs thrashed Ukraine in a one-sided final to become world champs against all the odds.

2018: Serbia achieve a three-peat

Serbia might never have been better in 2018. Their top team on the World Tour Novi Sad went 32-0 that season while Liman weren't far behind as the Serbian teams dominated the pro circuit.

Unsurprisingly, Serbia were red hot favorite for the World Cup in the Philippines with the core of Novi Sad - Dusan Bulut, Dejan Majstorovic and Marko Savic - combining with Liman's best player Stefan Stojacic.

It all added to an unbeatable force - something like 3x3's Dream Team although Serbia were pushed by Poland in the semis and the Netherlands in the final in a re-match of the decider in 2017.

MVP Dusan Bulut was at the peak of his powers but well supported by his teammates as Serbia raised the standard of 3x3 to new heights.

2018: 'Rae Rae' leads Italy to the title

Raelin D'Alie became a fan favorite in 3x3 crazy Philippines after a MVP performance to lead eighth seed Italy to a surprise title.

'Rae Rae' went cray cray as she crossed up Manila with a performance for the ages as the 5ft. 4in (1.63m) toyed with her taller opponents like they were in kindergarten.

Italy overcame powers USA, China and Russia in the knockout stages leaving the passionate fans in awe as they chanted 'Rae Rae' continuously to ensure an unlikely hero had emerged as D'Alie and her Italian teammates sat on 3x3's throne.

2019 - Dora Medgyessy leads Hungary to the final

There is a good reason this 5ft. 8in (1.73m) baller is often called ‘the magician’. We found out why in Amsterdam in a pulsating quarter-final against favorite Spain, who fluffed their chance in OT to call game as the Wilson seemingly magically bounced to Medgyessy behind the arc.

Like an assassin, Medgyessy made it look easy as she drained the buzzer beater and an unstoppable Hungry then toppled power France in the semis before losing to China in the final.

But Dora Medgyessy's magic trick against Spain will always live in the memory.

2019: Michael Hicks carries Poland to bronze

Michael Hicks aka ‘Money in the bank’ is one 3x3’s most popular and entertaining players ever – who represents so much of the 3x3 culture.

And he most famously lived up to his reputation in 2019 against three-time defending champs Serbia in the bronze medal game.

Trailing 15-14, with less than 10 seconds left, the ball was in the hands of only one man - Hicks who struggled to shake off Marko Savic, one of the best defenders in the business.

But street smart, Hicks up faked outside the arc on the right side and an off-balanced Savic fouled. In one of the most remarkable shots in World Cup history, Hicks somehow hit the dagger and lay sprawled on the ground as the crowd exploded.

He was all money from the line to seal Poland's bronze as they finally took down their rival Serbia.

2019: USA and China win first titles

It had long caused angst for USA that their men's teams had never broken through at the World Cup. But they believed 2019 was their time and they were vindicated after being superbly led by former Minnesota Timberwolves player Robbie Hummel, who proved the difference-maker and he was humming all tournament as USA went undefeated.

A first up victory over three-time defending champs Serbia provided the early momentum and USA were most impressive in the knockout stages culminating in a triumph over Latvia to win gold.

Finally the hoops power became the Kings of 3x3.

The world's most populous nation packed a punch in the women's with China claiming the crown with an unbeaten run.

Led by towering Zhiting Zhang, China lived up to their top seed although had to survive a major fright against Australia in a classic semi-final before convincingly beating Hungry in the final.

3x3's sleeping giant had awoken and China looms as formidable force in Antwerp having added bronze to the trophy cabinet at the Tokyo Olympics.

FIBA