Red-hot Liman and Beijing are the teams to beat at FIBA 3x3 Baoding Challenger 2023
BAODING (China) - Liman Huishan NE (SRB) and Beijing (CHN) will be seeking more silverware at the FIBA 3x3 Baoding Challenger 2023 on June 17-18.
This extremely competitive draw has 14 teams and there is the added carrot of three tickets available for the Lausanne Masters, which is the seventh stop on this year's FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
Let's preview all the action.
Let's start with powerhouses Liman, who have thoroughly silenced doubters with a slightly different side this year.
We should well know these dudes are mentally tougher than Djokovic on center court with Liman arriving here having won the Clermont-Ferrand Challenger.
Stefan Kojic was nastier than rajika and this 3x3 legend has never looked better.
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But he'll need to be scorching hot in Baoding because Liman will have a fight on their hands to win a second straight Challenger.
Beijing have a strong case to be the outright favorites and you can't argue with that since this new Chinese power have gone two from two in Challengers since recruiting superheroes Nauris Miezis and Karlis Lasmanis.
They've been well supported by muscular Yuanbo Zhu, who is becoming a major star in his homeland.
We haven't even yet mentioned No.1 seeds Raudondvaris Hoptrans (LTU), who are used to being counted out.
These lethal Lithuanians usually put egg on the face of haters with Aurelijus Pukelis and Marijus Uzupis arguably the most underrated duo in 3x3.
Amsterdam HiPRO (NED) are hoping for a first title of the season, but one thing is guaranteed - human highlight reel Worthy de Jong will be putting on a show for the fans.
After their third-placed finish at Clermont-Ferrand, we like what we're seeing from dangerous Paris (FRA), especially Franck Seguela who is a Houdini with the Wilson.
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Apologies to several of these teams, who deserve to be rated contenders but we couldn't squeeze them all in!
No.4 seeds Partizan (SRB) are coming off a runners-up finish at Clermont-Ferrand, but they will be without veteran Ivan Popovic. Their hopes rest with big fella Marko Stevanovic, who can play bully ball to devastating effect.
Partizan will be tested early in an intriguing Pool D game against Utrecht (NED), who are boasted by the giant figure of 7ft (2.13m) Hieronymus van der List.
Iconic American team Princeton (USA) can't be discounted either and they have championship pedigree with Damon Huffman a 3x3 tough man.
We also have our eyes on Wuhan (CHN), who may be able to emerge from qualifying and make a serious run because they have 3x3 legend Marko Savic in the line-up and he'll be out to prove he's still savage on the half-court.
Pool A: Raudondvaris Hoptrans (LTU), Princeton, Qualifier
Pool B: Amsterdam HiPRO (NED), Liman Huishan NE (SRB), Zavkhan SAINSCORE (MGL)
Pool C: Beijing (CHN), Paris (FRA), Zaisan MIGdaatgal (MGL)
Pool D: Partizan, Utrecht, Dundgol
What's at stake
The top 3 teams in Baoding will qualify for the Lausanne Masters on August 18-19, 2023, as part of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
How to watch
The two-day extravaganza is on June 17-18 and you can follow it live on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube and Facebook pages.