SPLIT (Croatia) - Red-hot Partizan (SRB) will be out to continue their purple patch at the FIBA 3x3 Split Challenger 2023 on September 30-October1.
The sizzling Serbs are part of a strong 16-team field and there are also three tickets available for the first-ever Manama Masters, which is the 16th stop on this season's FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
Let's preview all the action.
Let's start with the team who have won two straight titles on the pro circuit, shall we? No longer overshadowed by several of their compatriots, Partizan have spectacularly won four titles on this season's pro circuit.
They've unleashed a whole lot of firepower, including from new stars Stefan Milivojevic and Stefan Torbica who have become such a deadly duo that we got to start thinking of a nickname for them.
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No.3 seeds Partizan will face an early test in Pool C against San Juan (PUR), whose young talent have energized the half-court.
If there's a heatwave in Split, you know that's because sniper Antonio Ralat is draining bucket after bucket.
We've probably buried the lead because top seeds Ub Huishan NE (SRB) are always the headliner no matter what kind of form they're in. It hasn't been the best stretch for Ub, who have won just one title in their last five events.
That's still decent for most, but not 3x3's best and you just know the game's top player Strahinja Stojacic will be out to get Ub back on track as the business end of the season approaches.
Second seeds Antwerp Topdesk (BEL) have been one of the powers of 2023, but now gone four straight events without a title.
Through blood, sweat and tears, defensive menace Dennis Donkor will be doing everything he can to make sure the brilliant Belgians get back in the winner's circle.
There are plenty of contenders in this loaded draw and let's start with No.4 seeds Futian (CHN), who have gone off the boil recently.
Without superstar Thibaut Vervoort, sidekick Dimeo van der Horst has had to shoulder the burden but it hasn't really worked of late.
Futian crashed out on Day One at the Cebu Masters and their confidence looks battered heading to Split.
American teams Princeton and NY Harlem will do battle on Day One in a crucial contest that looms as a do or die game.
Princeton have tasted success this season and will rely on Henry Caruso to drip wet, while the famous New Yorkers are led by Dominique Jones, who you just know as 'Disco Domo'.
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Utrecht (NED) and Warsaw Lotto (POL) have had limited success this season, but can't be discounted so too Plunge (LTU).
Dangerous Hangzhou (CHN), who have won two titles this season and Pirot (SRB), runner's up in Lublin, are the favorites to emerge from the six-team qualifying draw.
Pool A: Ub Huishan NE (SRB), Princeton, NY Harlem
Pool B: Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL), Utrecht (NED), Warsaw Lotto (POL)
Pool C: Partizan (SRB), San Juan (PUR), Qualifier
Pool D: Futian (CHN), Plunge (LTU), Qualifier
What's at stake
The top 3 teams in Split will qualify for the Manama Masters on November 16-17 2023, as part of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
How to watch
The two-day extravaganza is on September 30-October 1 and you can follow it live on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube page.