Confident after another Challenger title, Liman eye breakthrough on FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2022 in Utrecht

20 Sep 2022

UTRECHT (Netherlands) - After a short breather, this wild FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2022 season resumes at the first ever Utrecht Masters on September 24-25 as the final stretch approaches.

With the World Tour travelling to the Netherlands for the first time, a loaded 14-team field will descend on the Jaarbeursplein in the center of Utrecht for the seventh Masters of the season.

No.1 seed Liman Huishan NE's (SRB) rollercoaster season continued after they claimed their fifth straight Challenger in Penang meaning they've won an insane 25 straight games on the pro circuit.

Success there, however, has not translated to titles on the World Tour with Liman enduring constant heartbreak in five previous Masters this season.

But they are confident of ending their curse and have brought a star-studded team, including the return of big fella Mihailo Vasic who is on a high after winning gold for Serbia at the FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup 2022.

And with Penang MVP Miroslav Pasajlic firing on all cylinders, it is little wonder Liman are hot favorites in Pool A, where they will once again play dangerous Paris (FRA) after the teams clashed in the semis in Penang.

The Frenchmen make their World Tour debut this season and appear to be locked in a battle with Lublin Lotto (POL) to get out of Day 1.

In Pool B, Antwerp (BEL) are looking for back-to-back Masters titles after their historic breakthrough in Debrecen, but will have to do it the hard way without superstar Thibaut Vervoort aka 'Must See TV' who is on pause this weekend.

Don't write these brilliant Belgians off. They've got Nick Celis, who deserves a show in his own right, and 23-year-old athletic marvel Caspar Augustijnen to ensure Antwerp remain Liman's biggest obstacle to the title.

Antwerp face an early test against rising Marijampole Mantinga (LTU), who produced an eye-catching performance with a semi-final run in Debrecen. Evaldas Dziaugys showed he was an emerging star and if the 25-year-old heats up in Utrecht then these lethal Lithuanians might just truly scare Antwerp like it's an early Halloween.

Local team Utrecht (NED), led by Worthy de Jong, will be hoping the crazy support in the bleachers can fuel a giant-killing run.

In Pool C, you just know Amsterdam HiPro (NED) will be pumped up playing in this historic event for the Netherlands - a great 3x3 nation. And they mean business after Arvin Slagter and Dimeo van der Horst repeatedly went bang, bang during Europe Cup 2022 to lead the Netherlands to a bronze medal.

The always consistent Amsterdam have made semis in each of their three Masters this season, but aim to paint Utrecht orange and win their first crown on the World Tour since the unforgettable Doha Masters 2021.

The No.3 seed face a Day 1 blockbuster against Belgrade Partizan (SRB), who were runner up at the Prague Masters and proved that was no fluke with strong performances on the pro circuit.

If waking bucket Ivan Popovic is poppin' on the half-court then that spells trouble for new kids on the block IJmuiden (NED), who are hoping to produce upsets.

Pool D is a battle between two improved teams in 2022 - Sakiai Gulbele (LTU) and Vienna (AUT).

The Lithuanians have won two Challengers this season and finished runner-up at the most recent Montreal Masters, where Marijus Uzupis didn't bring out his uzi - it was more like a bazooka!

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Uzupis will be pitted against legend Stefan Stojacic in arguably the most eagerly awaited contest on Day 1. Stojacic's remarkable comeback from a serious knee injury has inspired Vienna who have made the final four in the last six events they've played, including the Montreal Masters.

The third team in Pool D will come out of qualifying.