Everything we learned from FIBA 3x3 World Tour Abu Dhabi Final 2022
13 Dec 2022
ABU DHABI (UAE) - The FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2022 finished with a bang as the Abu Dhabi Final lived up to the hype on December 10-11 with Ub Huishan NE (SRB) grabbing the crown in a triumph for the ages.
Before we depart into the off-season and have to find something else to do with our time, let's recap the grand finale.
Ub Huishan NE are the best team in 3x3
There were question marks over No.1 ranked Ub after a drought on the World Tour ever since their red-hot start when they won the first four Masters of the season.
But on the big stage, Ub proved they are indeed deserving of top billing after an unbeaten run in Abu Dhabi. Of course, in such a loaded field, it wasn't easy but the Serbs showed why they are the best team in the world with an even contribution.
They had a potent four-pronged attack with all their players scoring more than 20 points to be in the top 10 of overall scoring. Ub's continuity and chemistry proved key when it mattered most and even though they had challengers to the throne, these spectacular Serbs ended up with the crown.
After a season for the ages, where they won 34 of 41 World Tour games, Ub have raised the standard in 3x3 and gone home $60,000 richer after winning the biggest prize on the pro circuit.
It's easy to overlook Marko Brankovic, who plays in the shadow of No.1 player Strahinja Stojacic and 3x3 great Dejan Majstorovic.
But the lethal lefty is a star in his own right as he showed by taking home the MVP in Abu Dhabi. The 28-year-old finished first in key assists (13), second in player value (42.4) and third in scoring (27) to cap his best performance of his career as he won an MVP on the World Tour for the first time.
The versatile 6ft. 7in (2m) Brankovic is an offensive and defensive beast and his heroics in Abu Dhabi capped a brilliant season, including on the international stage where he won gold for Serbia at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2022 and FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup 2022.
He's not the best kept secret in 3x3 anymore. Marko Brankovic is one of the best players in 3x3, period.
Stefan Stojacic completes comeback season for the ages
Forget Tom Cruise, Stefan Stojacic has made the biggest comeback of 2022 having returned to his absolute best from a serious knee injury which almost ended his legendary career.
Among the biggest stars in 3x3, he shone brightest in Abu Dhabi with an insane performance to finish No.1 in points with a whopping 49 points and player value (44.2).
The 33-year-old was unstoppable as he led Vienna (AUT) within an inch of their first World Tour Final title as they enjoyed big wins over his former team Liman (SRB), favorites Riga (LAT) and No.3 seed Antwerp (BEL) en route to the final.
He fell short to his bro Strahinja and Ub in a classic final, but Stojacic inspired Vienna into becoming a powerhouse while reminding everyone that he is one of the best to ever do it.
Amsterdam HiPRO's semi-final curse continues
Amsterdam (NED) played seven events on the World Tour 2022 and reached the semis six times. That's an impressive feat but unfortunately they lost all six times in the semis in what has become a gigantic curse for these talented Dutchmen.
A little bit like their football counterparts in penalty shoot-outs, Amsterdam just can't get past their hoodoo and they fell short in the semis in Abu Dhabi with a 21-14 loss to eventual champs Ub.
Amsterdam had a very consistent season led by superstar Dimeo van der Horst, who is a walking bucket. But they have a bitter taste in their mouth and will need to do some soul searching in the off-season.
Or maybe they need to find a lucky charm to help them get rid of their semi-final demons.
Liman are falling back to the pack in 3x3
Liman have been probably the most successful team in 3x3 for the past five years. Their legacy is secure and make no mistake they are still very good but other teams have caught up and maybe even surpassed Liman.
Since they made their World Tour debut in 2016, Liman had never been knocked out of an event on Day One. But underlining their struggles, Liman failed to make the knockout stages in Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi, where they were winless after losses to Omaha 3BALL (USA) and Vienna (AUT).
You can never write them off but Liman will need to find ways to improve if they want to storm back up the ladder in 2023.