Everything we learned from FIBA 3x3 World Tour Debrecen Masters 2022
30 Aug 2022
DEBRECEN (Hungary) - The FIBA 3x3 World Tour went into crazy mode during an insane Debrecen Masters, where Antwerp (BEL) created history and ended Ub's (SRB) perfect start to 2022.
Let's debrief on the fifth Masters of the season played in one of 3x3's most popular destinations.
Awesome Antwerp finally taste Masters glory
It was always going to take something special to dethrone unstoppable Ub and these brilliant Belgians delivered with a win for the ages in a classic final to win their first Masters.
Ever since they burst onto the World Tour last season, it has felt like just a matter of time before Antwerp would win a Masters. But they kept falling in their hoodoo of the semi finals - five times! - that it started feeling like a gigantic curse.
It seemed like maybe it was getting in their head with Antwerp bombing out in Manila with a Day 1 exit then falling in the quarters in Lausanne. And they seemed to be heading for more disappointment after needing OT to get past newcomers London (GBR) before losing to Princeton (USA) on Day One.
Tired of getting so close without silverware, Antwerp then played inspired and produced a brilliant Day 2 starting with an OT thrilling victory over Liman (SRB), knocking out rival Amsterdam HiPRO (NED) in the semis then ending Ub's Masters domination with an incredible victory in an unforgettable final.
They didn't really dominate the stats but this was all heart as Antwerp threw the monkey off their back in emphatic style. It was a team effort with Thibaut Vervoort, Nick Celis and young gun Caspar Augustijnen high in the scoring charts, while Bryan De Valck did all the little things to finish top in rebounds.
Their day in the sun finally arrived and Antwerp are just getting started.
Forget House of the Dragon or Better Call Saul or whatever is trending on Netflix, because Thibaut Vervoort aka 'Must See TV' was the most entertaining viewing over the weekend.
In a field of stars, the 24-year-old shone brightest to collect the MVP after finishing top in player value (41.4) as he dominated the stats. He incredibly hit three Maurice Lacroix buzzer beaters, including an all-timer against Ub in the final, to be the coldest dude in Debrecen as ice ran through his veins.
With his three MVPs, No.1 ranked player Strahinja Stojacic has set an incredibly high bar but Vervoort proved he isn't far behind as he stole the crown for the time being.
Their run finally ended at four straight World Tour events (the Opener and 3 Masters). But it took something absolutely crazy to stop Ub winning No.5 as their run came to a crashing halt.
With a bit of luck - or if Vervoort wasn't such a bad man - then Ub's perfect season would still be intact but that's the way 3x3 goes sometimes. They didn't do a lot wrong in Debrecen as they cruised to the final before meeting their match in the decider.
Strahinja Stojacic was lights out and so too his partner in crime Dejan Majstorovic, while lethal lefty Marko Brankovic remains the best third option in 3x3. They will be naturally disappointed but should feel content that their incredibly high standards were maintained.
They won't sweep through the season like Novi Sad 2018 but Ub have taken the World Tour to new heights and you just know they will come back even more determined next time on the half-court.
Liman are still empty-handed
Are the 3x3 gods against them? Powerhouse Liman have now lost three epic quarter-finals on the World Tour 2022, while their other two exits were at the hands of Ub.
In Debrecen, Liman's quarter-final curse continued as they were knocked out by the golden hands of Vervoort. It isn't reason to panic because Liman have had plenty of success in Challengers but they absolutely have had no luck on the World Tour.
Maybe a little World Tour breather will be good for them after all this heartbreak, but opponents be warned because Liman in their next World Tour event will be hungrier than Homer Simpson at an all you can eat buffet.
We always like to highlight some new up and coming teams, so let's give a shout out to a couple who turned heads in Debrecen.
No.7 seed Marijampole Mantinga (LTU) aren't exactly unknowns having made a statement with a second-placed finish at the Poitiers Challenger. But their semi-final finish in Debrecen was their breakout in Masters, especially 25-year-old Evaldas Dziaugys who was trouble for opponents inside the paint.
While Zygimantas Simonis was all money in winning time.