Who's next? A look at the 3x3 landscape after Novi Sad
NOVI SAD (Serbia) - Since the beginning of the World Tour in 2012, Novi Sad have had unprecedented success. Four World Tour titles and more Masters wins than any other team. It's been a joy watching them take on the world's best, and time again come up victorious. Now that they have split up, the next generation of 3x3 teams are ready to dominate.
Here are the 5 teams that can step out of Novi Sad's shadow and take the mantle for the undisputed best team in FIBA 3x3.
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Liman are the number one ranked team in the Team Ranking, yet they have never won the elusive World Tour Final. They came as close as they have ever been in 2020, going back and forth with Riga on the World Tour circuit, winning the Debrecen and Europe Masters. Led by Stefan Stojacic, aka ‘Mr. Robot’, Liman came within a final shot vs. Riga in the title game. The Serbian side has the talent and experience to win their first World Tour title in 2021, even with an improved field.
Last season’s World Tour winners are already on the path to being one of the best teams for the next few seasons. After a couple of years at the top of 3x3, they finally broke through and won their first World Tour title. Karlis Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis, aka ‘Batman and Robin’ are both under 30, while their supporting cast of Krumins and Cavars still have plenty left to give. Lasmanis and Miezis, both former number one players in the world, are in the prime of their careers and ready to repeat in 2021.
We didn’t see much of Princeton in 2020 after their runner-up campaign the previous year. In limited action, they finished 5th at the Doha Masters, without Robbie Hummel, the number two player in USA, and a polished scorer from all over the court. With his return and the continued dominance of Kareem Maddox, Princeton’s window is still wide open to become the first US team to win the World Tour.
This team has more talent then a Fast and Furious movie. The additions of Dejan Majstorovic and Marko Savic make Ub an immediate contender. In addition to Strahinja Stojacic, they also saw the emergence of Miroslav Pasajlic at the Hungary Masters, who famously drilled a game-winning shot over Dusan Bulut to take them to the final. They now have the depth and talent to win multiple World Tour Masters in 2021 and the experience to go all the way.
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Utena Uniclub (LTU)
The 2020 rookies of the year will be back with a chance to continue their run up the rankings. Ignas Vaitkus led all players in P-VAL per game (7.6) and in limited World Tour action, the team finished 2nd at the Debrecen Masters, 3rd in Doha, and 3rd at the Jeddah Final. They clearly have the talent to succeed in the 3x3 format, and with a bit more experience, they might be the next great team to dominate for years to come.