DEBRECEN (Hungary) - Weather conditions brought the action to a halt early, but Slovenia (Men) and Mongolia (Women) went perfect on Day 1 of the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup 2023 on August 30.
On the men’s side, Slovenia made an early statement. Taking on last year’s silver medalists Serbia in the opener, they had their work cut out for them. It was a back-and-forth affair for much of the proceedings, but Slovenia held a slight lead throughout. Serbia timed their onslaught, making a comeback and taking the lead 18-20 off the back of a huge two by Uros Suput.
Slovenia kept on though, as star player Jure Rener scored a bucket to cut the deficit to one. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Slovenia’s Enej Gerzel hailed a two for the win, silencing the silver medalists from last year. They also went on to beat the shifty Moroccan side in another close 18-20 score after an 8-point display from Erik Gustin.
Powerhouses Estonia showed their intent to take a step further from the Silver they won in 2021 as well. They started off with a convincing 21 - 16 victory against a gritty Brazil side as Georg Metsaorg and Gerrit Lehe combined for 15 points. Serbia were on the losing end again, this time against the aggressive Estonian side who showed no mercy. Lehe put up 8 points as well, making him one of the strongest offensive threats on the day.
On the women’s side, Mongolia meant business! They took on Malaysia in the opener where they took the game by its neck early and never let go. Nandinkhusel Nyamjav and Bolor Battsooj combined for 11 points as they won 14 - 11.
It was undoubtedly the Nyamjav show in the second game against Chinese Taipei. Enkhjin Gansuren and Battsooj were first on the scoring sheet for Mongolia. After that, it was all Nyamjav as she put up a whopping 10 points as they never let the opposition pose a challenge. It was a 14 - 16 result in favor of Mongolia as they went perfect on Day 1.
Poland (Women) also went undefeated in Debrecen, winning in a closely fought affair against Chinese Taipei before cruising past Thailand.
Slovenia’s (Men) Jure Rener was on a mission from the jump, scoring 9 points in the blockbuster game against Serbia. He was a monster on defense, swatting away anything and everything by the rim. He scored 5 points in their second win of the day against Morocco, finishing the day with 14 points.
On the women’s side, it was the unstoppable Nandinkhusel Nyamjav for Mongolia. She was instrumental in their first win of the day, putting up 5 points against Malaysia before going berserk against Chinese Taipei where she scored 10 points. She finished the night with 15.
If you’re looking for what teams made it rain highlights (pun intended), look no further than Morocco (Men).
Hamza Bechchar and Rami Younous were torching their opposition, making them jump while leaving them in the dust. They are yet to win a game, but the way the duo has been hooping, wins are a matter of when, not if.
The group stage action continues tomorrow on August 31, with the main slate of games along with rescheduled action from Day 1. It is going to be a wild day of 3x3 tomorrow!