No time to relax for red hot Vienna at FIBA 3x3 Energy Sukhbaatar Challenger
SUKHBAATAR (Mongolia) - Surging Vienna (AUT) will enter the FIBA 3x3 Energy Sukhbaatar Challenger 2022 on August 6-7 riding a tidal wave of momentum as the Austrians seek back-to-back titles.
In a tough field of 16, Vienna will have their work cut out as the pro circuit returns to 3x3 mad Mongolia with two prized tickets to the FIBA 3x3 Montreal Masters up for grabs.
No.3 seed Vienna made a loud statement with their first title on the pro circuit after an impressive triumph at the recent ABA Edmonton Challenger 2022.
The Austrians played with swagger and rode the hot hand of comeback king Stefan Stojacic, who continues to prove he's stronger than Schwarzenegger to win MVP and cap 'Mr Robot's' remarkable return from a serious knee injury.
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He's formed a deadly one-two punch with dynamo Filip Kramer, who has become one of the most entertaining players on the pro circuit and is proving to be the real deal.
Vienna are making noise, but Stojacic's old team Liman Huishan NE (SRB) have top billing with the No.1 seed keen to rebound after a disappointing quarter-final exit at the Prague Masters.
Having entered on a 15-game winning streak, comprising three Challenger titles, Liman could never get going and badly missed sniper Stefan Kojic, who should provide the full-strength Serbs with a spark in his likely return.
No.2 seed Antwerp (BEL) also will be keen to get back to their winning ways after falling short in Edmonton of a third straight Challenger title when the Belgians were stopped in the semis by Vienna, who they may well cross paths with in Sukhbaatar.
Even though their win streak ended, Thibaut Vervoort did all he could and 'Must See TV' once again was a ratings hit after recording two of the four triple-fives in Edmonton.
Young gun Caspar Augustijnen also recorded a triple-five and was the overall leader in highlights to continue his case for rookie of the year in what has been an outstanding debut season for the springy 23-year-old.
The bleachers will be rocking in a country where 3x3 is king and that support might just lift one of the six Mongolian teams in the draw to go all the way.
The best chance for a local victory is No.5 seed Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL), who have had plenty of game time this season and reached the quarter-final in Prague after beating fancies Sakiai Gulbele (LTU) in pool play.
There might be no one stronger than Delgernyam Davaasambuu, while you just know legendary shooter Steve Sir will be on target in his adopted country.
Sansar MMC Energy (MGL) also represent serious hope for locals and they have plenty of belief after finishing third at the Manila Masters in June.
Things have been tougher since but Sansar boast walking bucket Anand Ariunbold, who drains two-pieces from the logo with his eyes closed. Ok, we're messing with you although we're not totally sure because the 25-year-old can do whatever he wants on the half court.
Sansar face an early blockbuster against Antwerp, but will enter supremely confident having stunned the Belgians in Manila on Day 1.
No.4 seed Jeddah (KSA) have struggled to live up to the hype so far this season but that could change in an instant. You just can't write off FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2022 silver medalist Darius Tarvydas and 3x3 legend Simon Finzgar.
You want a dark horse? Then Danube (SRB) might just be the team for you after an impressive semi-final finish at the Poitiers Challenger, where Bogdan Dragovic breathed fire.
If 'The Dragon' heats up in Sukhbaatar then Danube just might follow in the footsteps of Vienna and win their first title on the pro circuit to shake up this increasingly unpredictable 3x3 season.
Pool A: Liman Huishan NE (SRB), Danube (SRB), Qualifier (JPN)
Pool B: Antwerp (BEL), Sansar MMC Energy (MGL), Qualifier
Pool C: Vienna (AUT), Vilnius RIVILE (LTU), Kedainiai (LTU)
Pool D: Jeddah (KSA), Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL), Utsunomiya Brex (JPN)
What's at stake
The top 2 teams in Sukhbaatar will qualify for the Montreal Masters on September 3-4, 2022, as part of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour. Important note: Vienna have already booked their ticket to Montreal last weekend. In other words, if the squad reaches the final in Mongolia, the team ranked third will get a Masters spot.
How to watch
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