Underdog Hangzhou win FIBA 3x3 Poitiers Challenger 2023
POITIERS (France) - No.10 seeds Hangzhou (CHN) produced a giant-killing run at the FIBA 3x3 Poitiers Challenger 2023 to win their first title on the pro circuit.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Hangzhou (CHN)
They were: No.1 points scored and No.2 best shooting value and fewest points allowed
We have to start with a major apology because Hangzhou weren't even mentioned in our preview!
So we deserve eggs on our face because Hangzhou arrived on the pro circuit in style to shock the world in a major statement.
All the attention heading into this season has been around Beijing and Futian who have loaded up by recruiting superstars.
Naturally Hangzhou have gone under the radar until now after producing a stunning run, which started with tight wins over in-form Partizan (SRB) and fan favorites Washington DC (USA).
Hangzhou's momentum continued into Day Two, where they produced impressive performances over Bordeaux (FRA) and Toronto KBA (CAN).
They held their nerve against powerhouse Liman Huishan NE (SRB) in an unforgettable final to claim a historic triumph on the pro circuit.
Electric Vladimir Trajkovic had an incredible debut to walk off with the MVP, while fellow Serb Goran Vidovic was also dominant in his first appearance on the half-court.
The future is bright for Hangzhou, who have now caught the eye of the 3x3 world.
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The runner's up: Liman Huishan NE (SRB)
Liman continued to be genuine contenders and this was no exception as they came within an inch of winning their second title of the season.
The No.4 seeds overcame Bordeaux (FRA) and Princeton (USA) in Day One thrillers before storming into the final with wins over Washington DC and
Liman were again led by legendary Stefan Kojic, who continued his red-hot start to the season with 36 points and he led player value (33.3).
Zhang on the rise: Ning Zhang has proven an effective sidekick to Kojic in a dazzling debut season.
The 26-year-old might just be the next big thing for Chinese 3x3 and starred in Poitiers with 30 points, including shooting 78% from inside the arc and 56% from deep.
Remember the name, Ning Zhang!
The Final: Hangzhou 21-Liman Huishan NE 20
Hangzhou were hoping their remarkable run would end in a surprising title, but Liman stood in the way.
What unfolded was another crazy final with Liman starting fast as Nebojsa Kilijan and Ning Zhang went bang, bang to rattle their inexperienced opponents.
When Stefan Kojic hit a two-piece, Liman led 7-2 and it appeared to be a one-sided contest.
But Hangzhou weren't merely content with being in the final as they shook off nerves when scoring machine Vladimir Trajkovic hit a two-pointer.
Liman still appeared to have the answers until Vladimir Trajkovic scored five quick points to give Hangzhou their first lead at 18-17. Ning Zhang answered from deep and Kojic tied the scores at 20 with a layup.
Goran Vidovic proved the hero as he put in the game-winning bucket from close range to trigger wild celebrations for these new kids on the 3x3 block.
The reward: Three tickets to the Constanta Masters
Hangzhou, Liman Huishan NE and Raudondvaris Hoptrans become the first teams to qualify for the Constanta Masters on September 9-10.
1. Hangzhou (CHN)
2. Liman Huishan NE (SRB)
3. Raudondvaris Hoptrans (LTU)
4. Toronto KBA (CAN)
5. Futian (CHN)
1. Vladimir Trajkovic (Hangzhou, CHN) 37 pts
2. Stefan Kojic (Liman Huishan NE, SRB) 36 pts
3. Milan Kovacevic (Hangzhou, CHN) 32 pts
4. Ning Zhang (Liman Huishan NE, SRB) 30 pts
5. James Parrott (Omaha 3BALL, USA) 24 pts
- No.2 seeds Partizan (SRB) were winless, while high-profile American teams Princeton and Washington DC won just one game between them.
- Former NY Harlem player James Parrott was electric in his Omaha 3BALL (USA) debut and his best game was against Valencia VBC 3x3 (ESP) where he had a triple-five of 13 points, 7 rebounds and 7 highlights.
- Raudondvaris Hoptrans' dynamic duo Aurelijus Pukelis and Marijus Uzupis once again delivered with a combined 45 points.