Top 5 reasons to watch FIBA 3x3 World Tour Utsunomiya Opener 2023
26 Apr 2023
UTSUNOMIYA (Japan) - We're back! After months of boredom it's time to get the party started and launch the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2023 in style at the Utsunomiya Opener on April 29-30.
We could have gone on forever, but we limited it to the top five reasons to watch the Utsunomiya Opener for free on our Facebook and YouTube channels.
2022 was the best season ever, but this year will be even crazier
After a couple of Covid-19 pandemic affected seasons, 2022 felt a bit more normal and the World Tour returned to full scale.
We had new stars and teams emerge to create the deepest and most talented World Tour in history.
But this year will be even better because the World Tour has been flipped upside down after an insane transfer period.
Numerous teams are desperate to make a statement and close the gap on top-ranked Ub Huishan NE (SRB), so have recruited the best in the business.
Superstars such as Karlis Lasmanis, Nauris Miezis, Thibaut Vervoort and Dimeo van der Horst will be wearing different colors this year.
They won't be in Utsunomiya but don't do a double take when you see former Utrecht sensation Worthy de Jong playing for Amsterdam HiPRO (NED) and ex-Liman speedster Miroslav Pasajlic lining up for Riga (LAT).
The best teams will be in Utsunomiya - some you'll see for the first time
The top 10 ranked teams will be in Utsunomiya and determined to start 2023 with a title.
Defending champs Ub Huishan NE (SRB) will be looking to do the impossible and improve on their epic 2022, but they face considerable challenges from a loaded field.
Some teams might look different but will be familiar when you watch them on the half-court like Raudondvaris Hoptrans (LTU), who were formerly Sakiai Gulbele.
A new team that we can't wait to see unleashed is Miami (USA) who might need to be called the 'Dream Team'.
That's because they boast four American superstars, including former NBA player Jimmer Fredette who is out to prove he can dominate 3x3 and if that happens then get ready for 'Jimmer Mania'.
Other teams have made tweaks such as Riga (LAT), Vienna (AUT) and Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL) but remain hotter than wasabi, while Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL) and Sansar MMC Energy (MGL) should arrive with swagger after Mongolia won the recent FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023.
Star players will be fighting for the crown
Ub's Strahinja Stojacic deservedly finished 2022 as the best player in the world having enjoyed so much individual and team success.
But he better watch his back because there are rivals gunning for his crown.
Athletic beast Caspar Augustijnen from Antwerp is a young dude ready to make the leap to stardom and so too Sansar's Anand Ariunbold, who has already delivered on the big stage this year.
There are also many established stars ready to go up a level. You already know them but we just have to shout out Miami's Kareem Maddox, Ulaanbaatar's legendary sniper Steve Sir and scoring machine Aurelijus Pukelis.
You saw a taste of them last year after they made spectacular debuts, but de Jong and Vienna's Quincy Diggs are out to prove they aren't one-season wonders.
Fan favorite Utsunomiya is the perfect spot to launch World Tour 2023
For the second straight year, the World Tour launches in Utsunomiya and we couldn't have found a better place for such a showpiece event.
The event is staged at the Futaarayama Jinja shrine, which was founded 1,600 years ago and is where people go to pray.
It's truly an honor for the World Tour to be played at such a historical treasure and an iconic 3x3 destination, which has also played host to three memorable Masters last decade and an amazing World Tour Final 2019.
It's always a major highlight of the World Tour events. The dunk contests featuring pro dunkers are absolutely lit and they always bring it in Utsunomiya, where some of the most legendary contests have been staged.