BELGRADE (Serbia) - Unstoppable Ub
Huishan NE (SRB) returned to home soil in style and continued their remarkable season after claiming the FIBA 3x3 Belgrade Challenger 2023.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Ub Huishan NE (SRB) They were: No.1 fewest points allowed and No.2 most points scored
Anyone surprised? Of course not although No.1 seeds Ub - who have won all six Masters this season - hadn't quite been as dominant in the Challengers.
But they didn't miss a beat even without top-ranked Strahinja Stojacic, who was enjoying a well-earned breather having played in all 30 games on the World Tour.
Macau Masters champ Vladimir Dordevic again proved a suitable fit for Ub's system, which continues to run rings over the opposition.
Ub cruised to the semis but then came the hard part with the Serbs having to fend off serious challenges from compatriots Partizan (SRB) and Liman
Huishan NE (SRB).
Once again, Ub were masterful in the clutch to win thrillers at the business end as they celebrated their eighth title of the season. And we're only in August!
Their big guns fired with Marko Brankovic spectacularly returning to win MVP while Dejan Majstorovic is aging better than Tom Cruise with the
Prague Masters MVP finishing with 37 points.
View this post on Instagram
The runner's up: Liman Huishan NE (SRB)
Liman may have agonizingly fell short to rivals Ub again, but they issued a reminder of their status as a 3x3 powerhouse.
They edged rising Hangzhou (CHN) and impressive Versailles (FRA) in the knockouts to underline Liman's pedigree.
Their stars Stefan Kojic and Mihailo Vasic led them superbly in a one-two punch worth 80 points.
Kojic Killin' it: He's been a flamethrower all season, but this may have been his masterpiece with Kojic tallying an insane 51 points from 5 games and also a staggering player-value of 53.8
Kojic showed why he loves the Wilson in his hands in the clutch when he hit two-piece buzzer beaters in the quarters and semis.
The 31-year-old remains one of the very best players on the planet.
View this post on Instagram
The Final: Ub Huishan NE 21- Liman Huishan NE 20
Quite fittingly, the final in Belgrade had to feature legendary Serb teams Ub and Liman, who have a storied rivalry.
The latest chapter was one of the best with snipers Dejan Majstorovic and Stefan Kojic engaged in a personal shootout contest.
They scored the game's first six points before Liman hit four quick points through Kojic and Mihailo Vasic to skip out to a 12-8 lead.
You knew Ub would fight back and Majstorovic continued his hot form with five quick points to level the scores at 13.
Both teams were scoring at will and were motoring towards 21 like they were in
Kojic went bang, bang to put Liman on the brink at 20-18, but Ub aren't done until it's done.
Nemanja Barac hit a layup before Nebojsa Kilijan missed a game-winning two-point attempt.
Liman seemingly had another chance, but defensive master Barac forced a turnover and kicked out to Majstorovic, who was fouled by Kojic from deep.
A typically ice-cool Majstorovic sealed victory from the line and secured another title for Ub.
VIDEO The reward: Three tickets to the Amsterdam Masters
Huishan NE, Liman Huishan NE and Partizan joined Utrecht and Marijampole Mantinga as the teams to have qualified for the Amsterdam Masters on October 6-7. Final Standings: 1. Ub Huishan NE (SRB) 2. Liman Huishan NE (SRB) 3. Partizan (SRB) 4. Versailles (FRA) 5. Riga (LAT) Top Scorers: 1.Stefan Kojic (Liman Huishan NE, SRB) 51 pts 2. Dejan Majstorovic (Ub Huishan NE, SRB) 37 pts 3. Antoine Eito (Versailles, FRA) 35 pts 4. Nemanja Barac (Ub Huishan NE, (SRB) 31 pts 5. Mihailo Vasic (Liman Huishan NE, SRB) 29 pts Key Stats: - Riga was the only top-four seed who didn't make the semis after winning just one game and crashing at the quarters to Versailles. - Newcomer Goran Vidovic was dominant for Hangzhou with two triple-fives in just three games. - Antoine Eito led Versailles to a semi-final run with 35 points from four games and he finished second in player-value (37.7). FIBA