One reason why every team can win the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final 2021

JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) - The craziest FIBA 3x3 World Tour season will end with a bang at the Jeddah Final on December 17-18, as 12 teams dream of lifting the biggest prize on the pro circuit.

With the showpiece event inching closer, we give one reason why every team can win the title. As we've seen over the course of a dramatic season filled with upsets galore and new champs, every team can legit go all the way.

Riga have the best superhero duo of them all

OK, there are plenty of reasons why red-hot Riga - filled with their four Olympic gold medalists - can go all the way, but let's start at the top.

Many new stars have emerged on the World Tour in 3x3, but Karlis Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis remain at the top of the rankings. And no duo is better than Batman and Robin, who are the best one-two punch in the game.

Both missed Masters after the Olympics as injury-hit Riga suffered a hangover post Tokyo but they are back in business with titles in Abu Dhabi and Mexico City, where Lasmanis claimed consecutive MVP honors.

These two lead most of the top categories on the World Tour this season with Lasmanis No.1 for player value (151.5) and scoring (177) while Miezis reigns supreme in highlights (83) and key assists (44).

And they love the big stage with Miezis having claimed an epic Tissot Buzzer Beater 12 months ago to clinch Riga's first World Tour trophy.

They start favorites to go back to back... as you can read in our power rankings.


Ub have been the most consistent team in 2021

The new-look Serbs have made the leap this season and own the best winning percentage on the World Tour with a remarkable 20-3 record.

Since Doha, Ub claimed Masters titles in Debrecen and Montreal while they finished runners-up in Lausanne and Abu Dhabi.

The addition of ex Novi Sad star Dejan Majstorovic has been key with the 'Maestro' rewinding the clock to be the fourth leading overall scorer on the World Tour. 

One place above him is Strahinja Stojacic who might have overtaken his legendary brother Stefan as the best 3x3 player in the family.

Ub have proven to be ultra consistent and that bodes well for them heading into the pressurized atmosphere of the World Tour's biggest stage. But remember Majstorovic has won the World Tour 4 times already so we're not expecting him to experience stage fright at this stage of his successful career.

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Liman don't go through seasons without silverware

Since Liman came of age in 2017, where they legit rivalled 3x3's GOAT team Novi Sad, the Serbs have won silverware every year.

They won two Masters in 2017, three in 2018, one in 2019 and two last year. For the mathematically challenged, that's eight titles from four seasons but things have proven harder in 2021 with Liman overtaken by new powers.

Make no mistake, Liman are still a force and were runners-up in Prague. They also have made the semis three times but, frustratingly, have not been able to break their drought.

It seems almost impossible that Liman will go through an entire season without a title but they've now only got one chance left to keep their streak intact.

Law of averages suggest Liman will triumph sooner rather than later, but there is an air of uncertainty over one of 3x3's most reliable teams.

Antwerp's Thibaut Vervoort is the biggest show on TV

Belgian sensation Antwerp are one of the success stories on the World Tour this year. They came from nowhere to become one of the best teams on the circuit as evidenced by a trio of semi-final finishes from five Masters.

Much of the success is owed to Thibaut Vervoort, who should have his own Netflix show because this bad man is 'Must Watch TV'.

He lives up to the nickname through his powerful game, where the 6ft. 5in. (1.96m) dynamo can do it all on the court.

The walking bucket can hit 2s from the 3x3 logo like free throws, but can also use his powerful frame to explode to the rim and embarrass defenders.

Vervoort averages 6.4ppg – only Lasmanis has a higher average for players in the top 10 in overall scoring.

And if he can heat up Jeddah over two days, Antwerp can go all the way.

Amsterdam Talent&Pro has the best defense

It's easy to fall in love with the Dutchmen's firepower - they have four players in the top 25 in overall scoring.

And prized recruit Maksim Kovacevic has brought the winning formula over from Liman with Amsterdam winning their first ever Masters title after a memorable triumph in Doha.

But it's their stingy defense which has been at the heart of their strong form and seen them rise into a top contender in 2021. Amsterdam have good size across the board and are well disciplined - key characteristics to succeed on defense.

They concede just 15.3ppg which is the fewest on the World Tour. As the saying goes, defense wins championships which bodes well for Amsterdam in Jeddah.


Sakiai Gulbele's Pukelis and Tarvydas can be the deadliest of duos

It's been a tough season for the Lithuanians who were the feel good story in 2019, where they broke through with victory in Montreal.

They've shown glimpses of that form - most notably beating Liman in the quarters in Debrecen. In that game, Darius Tarvydas and Aurelijus Pukelis combined for 16 points to outplay the Serbian stars.

The duo average a combined 11ppg and if they're firing then Sakiai can finish an inconsistent season on the ultimate good note.

Jeddah's Nemanja Draskovic has proven he can win MVPs

Jeddah created history in Prague when they became the first Saudi Arabian team to win a Masters. And it was there that Serb Nemanja Draskovic showed he could breathe fire with a tournament leading 39 points to claim the MVP.

He was the best player in an event featuring Lasmanis, Vervoort and Mihailo Vasic to prove he can lead a team all the way.

When Draskovic is feeling it, there isn't much a defense can do and if he gets into one of his hot shooting moods then Jeddah can absolutely win in front of their home fans.


Princeton's big-game experience can give them an edge

For some teams in Jeddah, it will be a new experience - either being part of the World Tour Final or being deemed a contender.

Princeton have been here before and just two years ago reached the deciding game with three of the members who will be Jeddah.

Granted there is no Robbie Hummel, which is of course a blow, but Kareem Maddox – fresh off winning gold for USA at the FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup 2021 - Damon Huffman, Zahir Carrington and Craig Moore are experienced campaigners who have played for years together.

Princeton have found the going tough since the pandemic with the logistics of travel proving difficult but they issued a reminder of their talent with a semi-final finish in Montreal.

Don't write off these vets just yet, because there is plenty of championship pedigree in this group.

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As always, Lausanne Sport has the talent

The Swiss have been hyped for so long but have never quite delivered despite some glimpses over the years.

2021 has been a tough season for Lausanne but they started to look quite dangerous in Mexico City where they made the quarters and beat Jeddah in the pool stage.

With well-known players such as Westher Molteni, Giles Martin and Marco Lehmann, talent has never been a problem for them but rather can they put it all together. Still, no opponent fancies playing them in respect of their capabilities.

Rejuvenated San Juan PCI Group has the swagger and belief to go all the way

Welcome back, Puerto Rico! The 3x3 pioneers have stormed back with a vengeance in 2021 after a period in the wilderness highlighted by San Juan PCI Group's stunning season.

Against all the odds, San Juan as the 12th seed upset the field to win in Lausanne and proved it was no fluke with a runners-up finish in Mexico City. These guys are back and their swagger has returned - no team celebrates Ws better than them!

Nothing scares them - even being in a big hole does little to dent their confidence. It's little wonder when they have a 3x3 miracle worker in their line-up - Angel Matias who won the Lausanne Masters MVP with clutch bucket after clutch bucket.

Victory in Jeddah will cap a fairy tale comeback for the ages.

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With a trio of Olympic silver medalists, Gagarin is made for the big stage

Gagarin had been a mystery for some time. While their young guns always played well on the international stage for Russia, Gagarin had long underachieved on the World Tour and that unexplained pattern continued this season.

Three Gagarin players won silver medals at the Tokyo Olympics but the team continued to struggle on the World Tour until a third-placed finish in Mexico City suggested that maybe the mystery was solved.

Alexander Zuev was sensational as he looks to make the leap into stardom, but needs consistency if he wants to be rated amongst the absolute best.

The 25-year-old, much like his team, has a golden opportunity to make a major statement on the World Tour. They are certainly capable because we've seen them do it countless times on the international stage - including the biggest of them all in Tokyo.


When it's Kramer Time, Graz are tough to beat

Filip Kramer is a highlight machine and he's always a lock to finish in our top 5 plays of the tournament.

He can flat out embarrass defenders but he's a natural born leader who can inspire underdog Graz to punch above their weight.

If he can consistently be dialed on Kramer Timer, Graz could well go on a giant killing run - which would be a fitting way to end this absolutely unpredictable World Tour season.