Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) - The final is upon us, and it’s impossible to call a winner. Here’s one reason why each team has a shot at winning it all at the FIBA 3x3 Ulaanbaatar Final 2023 on September 16 - 17.
Canada: Twin Magic
They’re the reigning Champs of the Women’s Series. We know just how good they are, but the Canadians leveled up this season yet again. Finding form through the outside shooting of Paige Crozon as well as the defensive grit of Kacie Bosch, Canada remained consistently dominant throughout the competition, granting them the top seed. Well, there is also the case of the most dominant duo in 3x3 running the show for them.
Michelle and Katherine Plouffe have been the top two players in the world for a reason, coming in with the second and third highest Player Value score and points scored through the event. Their connection on both ends of the court makes them undeniable and an obvious contender to repeat their success from last season.
China: The Lili Wang Show
It is safe to say that China were the story of the season, picking up success early with two back-to-back stop wins and never looking back. They have utilized multiple iterations of the squad and have found success. They have put out the double big lineup as well, something they will repeat in Ulaanbaatar with the duo of Mingling Chen and ZhiTing Zhang set to create havoc in the interior. Ji Yuan Wan has been the ultimate role player for the squad, providing versatility on both ends of the court. However, the key to the ignition is undoubtedly Lili Wang. Finishing the season tied for second in most key assists while also leading the series in highlights her impact. She also finished second in most triple-five scorelines.
She is the complete package and the reason China has found the success that they have in the competition. As long as Wang is on the court, buckets will fall for China.
Neftchi: The Carter-Fraser connection
Neftchi started off as the Commercial team that found winning ways and quickly became the team to watch out for and a staunch contender in the competition. Defense was a major part of it, Dina Ulyanova and Alexandra Mollenhauer covered the perimeter and post-play. Ulyanova finished the season with the most blocks as the team continually kept their opposition at bay. Both capable scorers as well. However, the duo of Arica Carter and Brianna Fraser have been undeniable. Carter was the star of the show to start off with, scoring some of the toughest buckets in the competition while also running the game for her side. Her size and defensive prowess made her the ultimate guard. However, there is no dispute as to who has been the most dominant player in the competition - Brianna Fraser.
Highest Player Value score, check. Most points scored, check. Most rebounds, check. Most double-five score-sheets. Check. Fraser has been a monster this series and with her and the team shining bright recently and form on their side, Neftchi will cause waves in Ulaanbaatar.
France: No-Buckets Myriam
The Greatness of France is well-documented. When the squad consisting of Former World Number one Laetitia Guapo, Hortense Limouzin and Marie Mane take to the court, it’s lights out buckets and wins. The La Guapa-led side showcased it at the World Cup 2023 in Vienna as they came away with a silver. While Guapo might receive most of the plaudits and rightfully so, the defensive power of Myriam Djekoundade is unmatched.
The stone-faced assassin makes any shots at the rim an impossible task while also holding her own at the perimeter. She had developed into a presence on the offensive as well and will be crucial to their success in Mongolia.
Germany: Greinacher seeks redemption
It’s been a difficult season for Germany. Going without a stop win despite coming close numerous times. But there’s no doubt they’re a step away from cracking the code. Sonja Greinacher found her rhythm eventually and has been dominant since. Luana Rodefeld and Svenja Brunckhorst both have had games where they could shoulder the load. Recent debutant Elisa Mevius was an instant impact for the team and showed signs of being the fit they needed.
Fortunately for Germany, they can put all their past woes behind them and claim glory in the final. If they wanna do so, they’ll need Sonny G to be firing on all cylinders.
USA: World Cup-Winning duo set to shine
It might not be possible to have a dark horse in a competition so stacked with the best of the best, but if it is, the USA are the team. The current champions of the World Cup in Vienna round varying success through different iterations of the roster. They found continual success with scoring juggernaut Camille Zimmerman and all-round presence Blake Dietrick. But the World Cup-winning connection of Linnae Harper and Cierra Burdick. Not only were they instrumental in the side’s gold medal, they have been the shining light of the American season in the Women’s Series. Harper was a bucket while also locking down on defense. Burdick was the conductor for her side as she picked up MVPs both times the USA won a stop. It will be a test for them in Mongolia but they have the pedigree to answer.
Sc. Yuanda: Strength in Numbers
Few teams have been as active as the Commercial side from China in Sc. Yuanda, and it has allowed to me to tinker around and find the perfect squad they need to compete. The scoring ability of Mengyun Zhou and Song Kexin will be on full display while Wanglai Zhang runs the show. Not to mention the playmaking ability of Yaling Huang. It will be a huge opportunity for Sc. Yuanda to finally put aside the runners-up finishes they’ve had in the Series, and to cap off a strong season with a miraculous win in Mongolia.
Mongolia: Home Support
Home side Mongolia will also be in the mix in the final, led by the dynamic Khulna Onolbaatar. Star scorer Indra Ulziibat will also be in action alongside Ariuntsetseg Bat-Erdene and Tserenlkham Munkhsaikhan. They might not have the record in the competition to stake a claim as favorites to win it all, but this is 3x3! Home support has meant a world of difference in the competition and the tides have been flowing Mongolia’s way if the ongoing Nations League final is anything to go by. Mongolia will be swinging for the fences and they might just catch a couple teams on the chin.
It all goes down in Ulaanbaatar on September 16 - 17 and you can follow it live on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube channel.