Beijing wins battle of Chinese heavyweights at FIBA 3x3 World Hoops Penang Challenger 2023

11 Jun 2023

PENANG (Malaysia) - Superstar recruits Nauris Miezis and Karlis Lasmanis continued their hot start with Beijing (CHN) as the new powerhouses overcame compatriots Futian (CHN) to win the FIBA 3x3 World Hoops Penang Challenger 2023.

Here's what happened over the two-day event on June 10-11.

The winners: Beijing (CHN)

They were: No.1 in most points scored and also fewest points allowed.

Beijing's new era with Latvian superheroes Miezis and Lasmanis has lived up to the hype after they collected their second title of the pro circuit.

Sandwiched between that is a semi-final finish at the Manila Masters and a first World Tour triumph appears not far away.

Beijing were tested and pushed straight away by the surprise packets of the tournament Pasig TNT (PHI), who made the semis.

But Beijing flexed their muscles, especially in the semis against rising Dusseldorf LFDY (GER) with Chinese star Peng Yan the standout with a game-high 8 points.

Lasmanis and Miezis were at their deadly best in the final against Futian to combine for 16 points.

The duo often take turns in collecting MVPs and this time around it was Miezis who won the top honor after finishing at the top of most major categories, while Lasmanis poured in a tournament-best 39 points.

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The runners-up: Futian (CHN)

Much like Beijing, loaded Futian have started well with three runners-up finishes, including at Manila.

But they will be starting to get frustrated by falling short with Futian so close to winning a title in Penang.

Without Thibaut Vervoort, it was unknown whether they could cover the brilliant Belgian but Futian stormed through to the knockout stages from qualification.

They were challenged on Day Two but overcame in-form Utsunomiya BREX EXE (JPN) and Pasig TNT before losing to Beijing in what is set to be a compelling rivalry for some time to come.

Hanyu Guo steps up: Dimeo van der Horst has been a walking bucket so far with his new team and many assumed he would have to carry the load without Vervoort.

But 28-year-old Hanyu Guo stepped up to be Futian's standout with 36 points - the third highest overall in the tournament.

Dianliang Zhang, just 25 years old, was also outstanding with 29 points while Jianghe Chen splashed from deep as Futian showcased their depth beyond their prized recruits.

The Final: Beijing 21- Futian 18

Expect many more finals between new Chinese heavyweights Beijing and Futian. This contest was more hyped than the release of The Flash and lived up to expectations.

Beijing were considered favorites with Futian missing superstar Thibaut Vervoort, but Hanyu Guo had stepped up impressively in his absence and started strong with a pretty drive and layup.

Scoring machine Dimeo van der Horst went bang then hit a tough drive to give his team a 7-4 lead at the halfway mark. He was proving unstoppable with another crafty layup giving Futian a handy 14-10 lead.

Beijing had turned Penang cold to that point, but they woke up through a two from superstar Karlis Lasmanis, who suddenly reeled off 5 straight points as the game went down to the wire.

Peng Yan's two-piece levelled the scores at 17 before Lasmanis got Beijing within a bucket from victory through free throws.

Fittingly it was MVP Nauris Miezis who finished it off with a trademark two-piece Buzzer Beater as Beijing won another title and bragging rights over their new rival.

The reward: Two tickets to the Macau Masters

With Beijing having already qualified, Futian and third-placed Dusseldorf LFDY (GER) qualified for the Macau Masters on July 8-9, 2023. The trio join Ub Huishan NE, Raudondvaris Hoptrans, Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy, Miami, Liman, Toronto KBA and Marseille.

Final Standings:
1. Beijing (CHN)
2. Futian (CHN)
3. Dusseldorf LFDY (GER)
4. Pasig TNT (PHI)
5. NY Harlem (USA)

Top Scorers:
1. Karlis Lasmanis (Beijing, CHN) 39 pts
2. Almond Vosotros(Pasig TNT, PHI) 38 pts
3. Hanyu Guo (Futian, CHN) 36 pts
4. Nauris Miezis (Beijing, CHN) 35 pts
5. Dimeo van der Horst (Futian, CHN) 31 pts

Key Stats:
- Third seeds NY Harlem (USA) were the only top four seed not to make the semis after being bounced by 10th seeds Pasig TNT (PHI) in the quarters.
- Pasig TNT's Almond Vosotros was an assassin to finish No.1 in player value (38.8) and highlights (22), and No.2 in points (38)
- Karolis Babusis from Kaunas VDU (LTU) had the shooter's touch against Bayangol Broncos (MGL) on Day One to finish with an insane 16 points.