Antwerp TOPdesk rediscover top form to win FIBA 3x3 Sukhbaatar Challenger
SUKHBAATAR (Mongolia) -Top seeds Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL) won their second title of the season after taking out the FIBA 3x3 Sukhbaatar Challenger.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL)
They were: No.1 most points scored, best shooting value and fewest points allowed
Even without superstar Thibaut Vervoort, the brilliant Belgians have maintained their standing as a 3x3 force.
But just one title from 10 events this season wouldn't have sat well with Antwerp, who were on a mission in Sukhbaatar.
It wasn't easy with Antwerp surviving major tests against in-form Chinese teams Wuhan and Wuxi on Day One before their big challenge against a desperate Miami (USA) in the semis.
In an instant classic, Dennis Donkor went toe-to-toe with former NBA player Jimmer Fredette before Nick Celis hit the game winner to send Antwerp into the final, where they ended three-man Beijing's brave run.
It was a team effort from Antwerp, who were led by MVP Celis while Jonas Foerts and Donkor combined for 63 points.
The runners-up: Beijing (CHN)
The Chinese powerhouse looked down and out after they fell first up to Zaisan MIGdaatgal (MGL) in OT.
Compounding their woes, they lost powerful Wenbo Lu but that only galvanized Beijing to produce stirring wins over contenders Paris (FRA), Futian (CHN) and Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL) without a sub.
They ultimately ran out of gas in the final, but can be mighty proud of their efforts.
Batman delivers: It would have been easy for a shorthanded Beijing to consign themselves to an early exit, but that's not how superhero Karlis Lasmanis is wired.
'Batman' put the cape on and went into attack mode to spearhead Beijing with 38 points and a tournament leading player-value of 40.9.
Lasmanis had plenty of support from trusted sidekick Nauris Miezis and Chinese player Songwei Zhu, who showcased a dangerous inside and outside game to finish with 23 points.
The Final: Antwerp TOPdesk 22-Beijing 8
Antwerp TOPdesk defeated Beijing at the recent Prague Masters and were favored against an opponent missing Wenbo Lu.
The No.1 seeds were wary given Beijing's incredible fight against the odds, but they were ruthless against their shorthanded opponent.
Jonas Foerts must have come out of an oven because he was scorching hot to hit a trio of twos inside the opening minute.
Antwerp smartly moved the ball around making the tired Beijing players exert themselves. It paid off with Foerts continuing his purple patch by going bang, bang to stretch his team's lead to 12-2.
Nauris Miezis tried to rally Beijing with a couple of buckets but it was not enough as Nick Celis came alive with Antwerp's final six points to seal the title and MVP honors.
The reward: Three tickets to the Amsterdam Masters
Antwerp TOPdesk, Beijing and Miami joined Ub Huishan NE, Liman Huishan NE, Partizan, Utrecht and Marijampole Mantinga as the teams to have qualified for the Amsterdam Masters on October 6-7.
1. Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL)
2. Beijing (CHN)
3. Miami (USA)
4. Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL)
5. Zaisan MIGdaatgal (MGL)
1.Steve Sir (Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy, MGL) 39 pts
2. Karlis Lasmanis (Beijing, CHN) 38 pts
3. Jonas Foerts (Antwerp TOPdesk, BEL) 34 pts
4. Ulzii-Orshikh Myagmarsuren ( Zaisan MIGdaatgal, MGL)34 pts
5. Jimmer Fredette (Miami, USA) 31 pts
- The top four seeds made it through to the semis as in-form Wuxi and much-hyped Futian fell in the quarters.
- Ulaanbaatar MMC's Steve Sir issued a reminder of his legendary shooting to tally a tournament high 39 points from four games.
- Wuxi's Stefan Stojacic had an incredible Day One, posting triple-fives against Antwerp TOPdesk and Wuhan.