Omaha 3BALL make major statement after winning FIBA 3x3 Quebec Challenger
QUEBEC (Canada) - Omaha 3BALL (USA) created history with their first major title on the pro tour after spectacularly winning the FIBA 3x3 Quebec Challenger on August 20-21.
The Americans have been waiting patiently to make a statement but they clicked into gear with their first Challenger title to book a spot to the Cebu Masters later in the year.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Omaha 3BALL (USA)
They were: No.1 points scored and No.1 best shooting value.
During the past 12 months, Omaha 3BALL have shown glimpses of their potential but it materialized beautifully in Quebec during an unbeaten campaign.
The No.8 seed cruised into Day 2 but then there was more action than the first episode of House of Dragons with thrilling victories over No.3 seed Marijampolė Mantinga (LTU), highly-rated Warsaw Lotto (POL) and powerhouse Riga (LAT) in a cracking final.
Dylan Travis has been Omaha's main guy since they joined the pro circuit and he enjoyed crossing the border to finish second in scoring with a flurry of buckets inside and outside the arc.
He formed a deadly one-two punch with MVP Malik Hluchoweckyj as the 25-year-old took his game to a new level and emerged as one of 3x3's brightest prospects.
Having won their first major title on the 3x3 pro circuit, Omaha will be looking to make some noise in Cebu having had a taste of Masters previously including in Prague where they failed to get out of qualifying.
With success under their belt, Omaha will arrive in the Philippines with a swagger.
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The runner-up: Riga (LAT)
It's been a tough year for powerhouse Riga but you knew they wouldn't stay down for too long. In Quebec, Riga produced their best performance in 2022 but fell just short of breaking their drought.
Their improvement was fuelled by Nauris Miezis, who was at his dynamic best to be the leading scorer with 39 points even though his two-point stroke was still a little wayward.
Mieizs aka 'Robin' was the lead superhero but he had plenty of support through fellow Olympic gold medalist Edgars Krumins, who also couldn't quite get going from deep but hit key buckets when needed.
Riga wound back the clock with a brilliant display in the knockout stages to teach a lesson to new kids on the block Washington DC (USA) and Princeton (USA). It was a reminder of their chemistry and that these dudes have had almost every success imaginable over the last five years.
If Miezis and Krumins heat up from behind the arc then expect Riga to win a first title in 2022 sooner rather later.
Reliable Cavars: Agnis Cavars is perhaps the heart and soul of Riga as the big fella sacrifices touches to do all the little things.
There was some speculation that he might retire at the end of 2021 having accomplished the ultimate by winning the first men's Olympic gold medal. But Cavars decided to stay on and Riga are glad he did because the 6ft 5in (1.96m) beast still has plenty to offer.
Maybe he wasn't as eye-catching as his teammates, but Cavars was extremely important to finish third in player value (29.9) and No.1 in rebounds (33).
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The Final: Omaha 3BALL 21-Riga 19
It was a match up between Omaha looking for a first Challenger title and Riga who have had so much success over the years only to be going through a flat spot.
It was the Americans who started brightly in perfect conditions as Mitch Hahn went bang, bang and Omaha led 9-2
Everyone knew Riga would fight back and they did just that with 6 straight points as Nauris Miezis and Edgars Krumins traded buckets.
Krumins' radar had been off from deep but on the big stage he was firing on all cylinders as a pair of two-pieces pushed Riga into a strong 16-11 lead.
Omaha, like so many teams before them, appeared set to be bulldozed by Riga but MVP Malik Hluchoweckyj responded with 3 quick points to get his side back into the contest.
Hluchoweckyj then banked a tough runner to tie the scores at 17 heading into the final minute with the title on the line. Hahn appeared to seal the deal with a layup to make it 20-17 but Miezis tapped into his super powers to hit a tough 2 with 8 seconds left to reduce Omaha's lead to 1 point.
But Travis was clutch from the line as Omaha claimed the prize and issued a warning to the competition.
The reward: Two tickets to the Cebu Masters
Omaha 3BALL (USA) and Riga (LAT) earned their tickets to the Cebu Masters on October 1-2, 2022.
They join Antwerp (BEL), Amsterdam HiPro (NED), Jeddah, Lausanne Sport (SUI), Utsunomiya BREX (JPN), Doha (QAT) and Ludhiana (IND)
1. Omaha 3BALL (USA)
2. Riga (LAT)
3. Warsaw Lotto (POL)
4. Princeton (USA)
5. Chicago (USA)
1. Nauris Miezis (Riga, LAT) 39 pts
2. Dylan Travis (Omaha 3BALL, USA) 37 pts
3. Przemyslaw Zamojski (Warsaw Lotto, POL) 37 pts
4. Malik Hluchoweckyi (Omaha 3BALL, USA) 36 pts
5. Edgars Krumins (Riga, LAT) 27 pts
- Only two of the top four seeds made the semis with No.3 seed Marijampolė Mantinga (LTU) and No 4 Chicago (USA) winning just 1 of 3 games to both fall in the quarters.
-The fast and furious Pool D game between Chicago (USA) and Warsaw Lotto (POL) poured buckets with a combined 41 points in just 7'27" of playing time in the second fastest game of the tournament.
- Warsaw star Przemyslaw Zamojski issued a reminder that he's one of the best in the business with a superb tournament to lead player value (33.5) and he might have had the most stunning individual performance with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 highlights against Montreal (CAN) in pool play.