BAKU (Azerbaijan) - Commercial side Neftchi are the favorites after their win in Melilla with the home crowd on their side, but competition will be stiff in the FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series Baku Stop 2023 on August 22-23.
Let’s break down the nineteenth edition of the series.
It’s been quite the season for Neftchi, most recently going on a historic run to beat USA, China and Spain on their way to win the Melilla stop. The team from Azerbaijan has proven just how good they can be, especially on home soil. Their first stop win came incidentally at home at the Shusha stop.
Consistency has been a key factor for them, relying on the core four of Alexandra Mollenhauer, Dina Ulyanova, Brianna Fraser and Arica Carter. Their skillset blends together superbly, bringing together a complete display of offensive firepower and defensive grit.
Baku will be fully in support of the home side, and a fourth stop might just been on the cards for Neftchi.
They will have to contend with numerous high-caliber teams, none more steadfast as China. Their success this season has been well-documented. This time however, we are getting a younger side, a similar core to the side that won the Baoding Stop earlier in the season. It will be the versatile trio of Xinyan Hong, Ming Zheng and Dinyu joined by the debuting Mengjie Wu. They have a winning pedigree themselves much like the usual side that have won numerous stops, and have all the makings of a contender.
The exuberant French side will be in action in Baku as well, led by a mix of stars that have represented Les Blueus to success numerous times this season. Coline Franchelin, Noemie Brochant and Jodie Cornelie will headline the side with Anna Ndjock taking set on lighting up the court.
The Germans led by Sonja Greinacher will take to the court as well, this time joined for the first time by Theresa Simon, a versatile presence on the court. The switch just might be what the side needs to turn their fortunes in the season so far.
The team that recently lit up Katowice was Lithuania. Although this time they will be without Special K, they have the DNA to be clutch and shoot their way into any game.
The usual suspects are back for Poland, so expect some tenacious defense and efficient offense. They have made deep runs into the competition and it would be no surprise if they do just that in Baku.
The clutch Aoi Katsura will lead Düsseldorf ZOOS into yet another stop, each time showing just how lethal they can be but being unable to make it to the final. They have shown signs of brilliance in recent showings and perhaps are just a few buckets away from that elusive stop win.
Consistently clinical Sc. Yuanda will return to action as well, having been ever so close to winning it all. They join the long list of teams that have all the makings of winning the stop, but are just a couple buckets away. Perhaps Baku might be the event of turning fortunes for one side. Who it would be remains to be seen.
Pool A: China, Poland, Czech Republic
Pool B: France, Düsseldorf ZOOS (GER), Israel/Ukraine/Romania
Pool C: Neftchi (AZE), Sc. Yuanda (CHN), Italy/Malaysia/Thailand
Pool D: Lithuania, Germany, Azerbaijan
How to watch
The action takes place in Azerbaijan on August 22-23 and you can catch it all on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube channel and Facebook pages.