Unstoppable Antwerp aim for third straight title at FIBA 3x3 ABA Edmonton Challenger
28 Jul 2022
EDMONTON (Canada) - Red hot Antwerp (BEL) will be seeking a third straight title in a bid to issue another statement to rivals at the FIBA 3x3 ABA Edmonton Challenger on July 30-31.
In a competitive field of 14, the brilliant Belgians loom as the standout but there is much intrigue as the pro circuit swings to North America with two prized tickets to the Montreal Masters up for grabs.
Whatever went wrong for them at the Manila Masters, where they were shockingly bounced out on Day 1, Antwerp have been on a mission ever since and are on a current 10-game winning streak after two Challenger titles in Bordeaux and Pristina.
The addition of bouncy Caspar Augustijnen has been a masterstroke with the 23-year-old a beast at the rim on O and D. He's added another threat to this well-oiled machine led by Thibaut Vervoort aka 'Must See TV' who has proved that season two lives up to the hype.
As the FIBA 3x3 World Tour resumes, Antwerp are hungry for more success but they will have to contend with rivals desperate to prove they belong in the top tier.
No.2 seed Amsterdam HiPro (NED) are always competitive underlined by a runner-up finish at the loaded Ultra Novi Sad Challenger and two other semi-final placings.
But the Dutchmen keep frustratingly falling short as they strive to enter the elite class of Ub (SRB), Liman (SRB) and Antwerp. They've brought their big guns, including the deadliest of them all Dimeo van der Horst who can win games with his golden touch.
No.3 Princeton (USA) promised a bounce back season after a period in the wilderness due to the Covid-19 pandemic and have walked the talk with a runner-up finish at the Utsunomiya Opener and another in Bordeaux.
Canyon Barry, FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019 winner and son of NBA legend Rick Barry, was a flame-thrower in Bordeaux and if he gets going then Princeton might just collect their first title in three years.
Rounding out the contenders are No.4 seed Vienna (AUT) who feel like they are poised for something special. The Austrians had a great run in Pristina only to narrowly lose to Antwerp in a classic semi-final.
Matthias Linortner was lights out and if he can continue to sizzle then Vienna have a three-headed offensive monster.
Filip Kramer is almost unstoppable when he gets a head of steam, while 3x3 legend Stefan Stojacic is making a bid for comeback of the year after a remarkable return from a serious knee injury.
There are plenty of challengers, pardon the pun, in this deep field with American teams Chicago and NY Harlem full of well-known players who have had a lot of success on the pro circuit over the years.
But if you want a team entering with a swagger then it might just be Fribourg (SUI) who enjoyed a giant-killing run in Pristina to finish runner-up. They boast new sensations Jonathan Kazadi and Jonathan Dubas, who have emerged as one of the most exciting duos on the pro circuit.
They will be strengthened by the inclusion of high-flyer Natan Jurkovitz, who previously lit up events for Switzerland's No.1 team Lausanne.
Fribourg will feel very good about their chances having beaten Amsterdam in the semis in Pristina in a confidence boost ahead of the teams meeting in a Pool B blockbuster.
Another dark horse might be Saitama (JPN) who almost knocked off unstoppable Liman in the quarters in Lipik and they boast Tomoya Ochiai aka 'Worm' who loves nothing more than performing tricks with the Wilson.
Pool A: Antwerp (BEL), NY Harlem (USA), Saitama (JPN) Pool B: Amsterdam HiPro (NED), Fribourg (SUI), Paris (FRA) Pool C: Princeton (USA), Merksem (BEL), Winnipeg (CAN) Pool D: Vienna (AUT), Chicago (USA), Qualifier
What's at stake
The top 2 teams in Edmonton will qualify for the Montreal Masters on September 3-4, 2022, as part of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.