Heartbroken Miami aim to bounce back at FIBA 3x3 Pristina Challenger
PRISTINA (Kosovo) - After a painful World Tour debut, much-hyped Miami (USA) hope to shrug off the disappointment at the FIBA 3x3 Pristina Challenger.
The Americans are one of the favorites in the 16-team draw and there are also three tickets available for the Constanta Masters, which is the ninth stop on this season's FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
Let's preview all the action.
We'll start with Miami, who had a tough start to the pro circuit with just 2 wins from 5 games.
They fell in the quarters at the Macau Masters in a heartbreak to Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy to spoil the World Tour debut of former NBA player Jimmer Fredette.
But the scoring machine didn't disappoint and we can't wait to see him put on a show in Pristina as Miami seeks revenge.
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They might not be favorites overall, however, with Amsterdam HiPRO coming off victory at the Fribourg Challenger without superstar Worthy de Jong.
But the high-flyer returns and is set to continue his red-hot start to the season, where he has been one of the best players on the circuit.
It's taken a while to get to them - underlining the strength of this draw - but No.1 seeds Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL) have top billing for a reason.
They already have a title under their belt this season and bring a strong team to Pristina with young gun Caspar Augustijnen out to prove why the hype surrounding him is real.
Raudondvaris Hoptrans (LTU) also deserve to be rated here but are coming off a lacklustre effort in Macau, where they were knocked out in the quarters.
But they remain must watch because you just can't keep your eyes off Modestas Kumpys aka 'Flight Mode' who usually throws down one nasty dunk per game.
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The talent is deep here with a number of x-factor teams starting with San Juan (PUR), whose group of young guns have been electric so far this season.
The Puerto Ricans will have a rematch on Day One with Dusseldorf LFDY, who they defeated at the Manila Masters.
The Germans' strong form on the pro circuit has not translated yet to the World Tour, where they are 0-6 this season. But if 3x3 unicorn Niklas Kropp heats up Pristina then Dusseldorf can get back on track.
Warsaw Lotto (POL) have struggled to get going this season, but Przemyslaw Zamojski might just be able to ignite them while Tel Aviv (ISR) boast excitement machine Netanel Artzi.
Speaking of excitement machines, Natan Jurkovitz is one of the best in-game dunkers seen on the half-court and he will lead the charge for Fribourg (SUI), who made the semis of their home Challenger recently.
You really thought we would forget? NY Harlem always delivers a spectacular show and we can't wait for OG Dominique Jones aka 'Disco Domo' to put on his dancing shoes and go toe-to-toe with Fredette on Day One.
Pool A: Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL), Tel-Aviv (ISR), Fribourg (SUI)
Pool B: Amsterdam HiPRO (NED), Warsaw Lotto, Qualifier
Pool C: Raudondvaris Hoptrans (LTU), Dusseldorf LFDY (GER), San Juan (PUR)
Pool D: Miami (USA), NY Harlem (USA), Qualifier
What's at stake
The top 3 teams in Pristina will qualify for the Constanta Masters on September 9-10, 2023, as part of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
How to watch
The two-day extravaganza is on July 15-16 and you can follow it live on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube and Facebook pages.