Partizan upstage loaded field to win FIBA 3x3 Novi Sad Challenger
NOVI SAD (Serbia) - Underrated Partizan (SRB) made a statement after winning their second title on this season's pro circuit at the FIBA 3x3 Novi Sad Challenger.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Partizan (SRB)
They were: No.1 best shooting value and most highlights
Overshadowed by several Serbian powerhouses, Partizan can be easily overlooked but they continue to claim Ws on the pro circuit.
Their second title this season looked unlikely after Partizan fell to Hangzhou (CHN) first up before beating dangerous Sansar MMC Energy (MGL) in a must-win game.
But the Serbs turned it on with a 21-11 beatdown of Lausanne (SUI) in the quarters before winning thrillers against in-form compatriots Liman Huishan NE (SRB) and Wuxi (CHN).
A feature of Partizan's performance was their trademark stingy defence while they had balanced scoring led by big fella Marko Stevanovic, who couldn't miss from the floor as he shot nearly 85% from the field.
Partizan showed exactly why the 3x3 world should watch them more closely.
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The runner's up: Wuxi (CHN)
After showing glimpses of promise at the Macau Masters, Wuxi built further to produce a strong run in Novi Sad.
Much like Partizan, Wuxi were in a big hole after an opening loss to Beijing (CHN) before staying alive thanks to a clutch performance from Stefan Stojacic against Utrecht (NED).
Wuxi's confidence rose as they accounted for Haarlem (NED) and Hangzhou (CHN) before agonizingly falling short against Partizan in an unforgettable final.
The 30-year-old Radonjic is starting to make his mark on the pro circuit and loves to fire off from deep to underline Wuxi's strategy of gunning from two-point range.
Wuxi are getting close to a first title on the World Tour.
The Final: Partizan 21-Wuxi 20
This was a final for the ages in a decider that few could have predicted before the event.
But the Chinese team wanted to prove they belonged on the big stage with Haonan Li's two giving Wuxi a perfect start.
Brilliant ball movement from Partizan saw a two-handed dunk from Marko Stevanovic pump up the capacity crowd
Both teams looked nervous in the electric atmosphere until the game went up a gear when Ivan Popovic and Li traded two pieces at the halfway mark.
Wuxi skipped ahead and eyed the title when Stefan Stojacic nailed a two to give them a handy 16-12 edge.
Partizan hit back, but it didn't seem enough as Stojacic took out his cape and once again appeared to take control in the clutch.
A deep Stojacic two from the left corner broke the deadlock with Wuxi on the cusp at 20-18 before a free-throw from Stefan Torbica brought Partizan within a bucket of victory.
Wuxi missed opportunities to ice the game as Stefan Milivojevic stepped up with a two that was all net to trigger memorable scenes in Novi Sad.
The reward: Three tickets to the Shanghai Masters
Partizan, Wuxi and Liman Huishan NE were the first teams to qualify for the Shanghai Masters on October 14-15.
1. Partizan (SRB)
2. Wuxi (CHN)
3. Liman Huishan NE (SRB)
4. Hangzhou (CHN)
5. Ub Huishan NE (SRB)
1. Stefan Kojic (Liman Huishan NE, SRB) 38 pts
2. Stefan Stojacic (Wuxi, CHN) 32 pts
3. Marko Radonjic (Wuxi, CHN) 30 pts
4. Goran Vidovic (Hangzhou, CHN) 30 pts
5. Marko Stevanovic (Partizan, SRB) 29 pts
- The top two seeds Ub Huishan NE and Beijing were both knocked out in the quarter-finals.
- Dynamic Dylan Van Eyck was electric and finished third in player value (36) and he had two triple-fives.
- Stefan Kojic continued his red-hot form for Liman to finish No.1 in player value (38.4) and scoring (38).