Amsterdam HiPRO break title drought at FIBA 3x3 Fribourg Challenger

9 Jul 2023

FRIBOURG (Switzerland) - Amsterdam HiPRO (NED) claimed their first title on this season's pro circuit after winning the FIBA 3x3 Fribourg Challenger.

Here's what happened.

The winners: Amsterdam HiPRO (NED)

They were: No.1 fewest points allowed

After falling just short at the Marseille Masters, Amsterdam faced a tough challenge to bounce back without superstar Worthy de Jong.

And it seemed like they were set for a let down after losing their opener to Lausanne (SUI) before clicking into gear with an easy victory over Poitiers Drags (FRA).

They edged out No.1 seeds Vienna (AUT) and Paris (FRA) on Day Two then had an easier time in the final against Utsunomiya BREX EXE (JPN).

Maarten Bouwknecht was more than a worthy replacement for de Jong with a spectacular debut performance for Amsterdam.

In his first appearance on the pro circuit since 2019, the 28-year-old walked off with the MVP after topping player value (49.7) and highlights (26).

He has added depth to a formidable Amsterdam, who tasted victory on their seventh event of the season.

The runner's up: Utsunomiya BREX EXE (JPN)

Having already claimed a title this season, the Japanese team are a rising force and they further underlined their credentials with a strong showing in Fribourg.

Utsunomiya meant business from the get go with an impressive victory over No.2 seeds Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL) and then in the knockout rounds they beat Partizan (SRB) and hosts Fribourg (SUI).

They couldn't quite go all the way, but Utsunomiya's strong season so far continued.

Magnificent Milakovic: Sharpshooter Marko Milakovic is starting to rise into the top tier in 3x3.

His growing confidence was on full display in Fribourg with Milakovic finishing No.1 in scoring with an insane 45 points and he was cold blooded with a buzzer beater to knock out Partizan in the quarters.

Milakovic's swagger shows that he genuinely knows he can dominate the half-court.

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The Final: Amsterdam HiPRO 21-Utsunomiya BREX EXE 13

Amsterdam were determined to end their title drought and started fast to overwhelm Utsunomiya.

Arvin Slagter went bang then an easy bucket at the rim from Jan Driessen made it 9-1 with Amsterdam in total control.

Marko Milakovic had been well held by the tough Amsterdam defense, but he hoped a layup would spark his team.

But Amsterdam had all the answers with red-hot Maarten Bouwknecht going bang, bang and it was only a matter of time before the Dutch Masters celebrated a long-awaited title.

The reward: Three tickets to the Debrecen Masters

Amsterdam HiPRO, Utsunomiya BREX EXE and Paris join Ub Huishan NE, Antwerp TOPdesk and Tel-Aviv as teams who have qualified for the Debrecen Masters on August 26-27.

Final Standings:
1. Amsterdam HiPRO (NED)
2. Utsunomiya BREX EXE (JPN)
3. Paris (FRA)
4. Fribourg (SUI)
5. Vienna (AUT)

Top Scorers:
1. Marko Milakovic (Utsunomiya BREX EXE) 45 pts
2. Maarten Bouwknecht (Amsterdam HiPRO, NED) 40 pts
3. Leopold Cavaliere (Paris, FRA) 25 pts
4. Arnaud Cotture (Fribourg, SUI) 25 pts
5. Natan Jurkovitz(Fribourg, SUI) 25 pts

Key Stats:
- The top two seeds Vienna and Antwerp TOPdesk were both knocked out in the quarter-finals.
- Leopold Cavaliere was electric for Paris (FRA) with a tournament leading 7 dunks.
- Young gun Johann Garbin of Poitiers Drags had one of the best games of the event when he posted a triple-five of 8 points, 5 rebounds and 10 highlights against Lausanne.