Ub Huishan NE rediscover top form to win FIBA 3x3 Samobor Challenger 2023
SAMOBOR (Croatia) - After coming up short in three straight events, No.1 ranked Ub Huishan NE (SRB) returned to their brilliant best to win the FIBA 3x3 Samobor Challenger 2023.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Ub Huishan NE (SRB)
They were: No.2 fewest points allowed
Ub's standards are so ridiculously high that being titleless for three straight events represented a slump for them.
It was only going to be a matter of time before they got back to the winner's list and Ub did exactly that in Samobor.
Without defensive anchor Nemanja Barac, it wasn't easy for Ub who lost on Day One to Pirot (SRB).
They edged compatriots Liman Huishan NE (SRB) in a classic quarter-final to continue this memorable rivalry before going up a level to blow past Vienna (AUT) in the semis.
Ub were too good for Marijampole Mantinga (LTU) in the final with the best player on the planet Strahinja Stojacic again stepping up on the big stage with a triple-five of 10 points, 5 rebounds and 7 highlights.
'Doctor Strange' collected another MVP and he combined brilliantly with smooth lefty Marko Brankovic as the pair tallied 68 points between them.
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The runner's up: Marijampole Mantinga (LTU)
The Lithuanians hadn't made a final from seven previous attempts in 2023, but produced their best run of the season.
The seventh seeds suffered heartbreak in their opener with a tight loss to Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL) but made it to Day Two, where they squeezed past Lausanne (SUI) in a memorable quarter-final.
The lethal Lithuanians overwhelmed Pirot in the semis before putting up a game fight against Ub in a competitive final.
Having made the semis at the Lausanne Masters, Marijampole again showed they can be a title contending team.
Dziaugys dazzles: The 26-year-old Evaldas Dziaugys is a player to keep an eye out for having dominated the paint to average 7.3 ppg on the pro circuit this season.
He was unstoppable in Samodor with 45 points and owned the boards with 33 rebounds to ignite Marijampole.
His masterpiece came in the quarters against Lausanne when he tallied 13 points and 8 rebounds as he went toe-to-toe against big fella Carlos Martinez in a heavyweight battle,
The Final: Ub Huishan NE 21-Marijampole Mantinga 16
Ub entered as hot favorites and had beaten the Lithuanians at the Lausanne Masters just a month ago.
When the stakes are highest that's when Strahinja Stojacic goes into attack mode and he needed just 10 seconds to get to the rack for the opening bucket.
Marko Brankovic scored three quick points as Ub made the fast start before scoring machine Evaldas Dziaugys got going down low to get Marijampole back in the contest.
It became a shoot-out between Stojacic and Dziaugys, who was scoring at will to give his team an 11-7 lead.
Ub hit back but Dziaugys was not daunted as he thundered home a monster one-handed jam to keep his team ahead.
It was time for 'Doctor Strange' to step up and he did exactly that with a banked two-piece before a one-handed put back dunk tied the scores at 12 apiece.
Ub's experience started to show as they finally wore down their opponents with Dejan Majstorovic reminding everyone that he is the 'Maestro' with a dagger two to get his team on the brink of the title.
Victory was secured when Majstorovic scored from close range as Ub celebrated their ninth title of the season but first for a month.
The reward: Three tickets to the Wuxi Masters
Ub Huishan NE, Marijampole Mantinga and Pirot joined Sansar MMC Energy and Saitama ALPHAS EXE as the teams qualified to the Wuxi Masters on November 4-5.
1. Ub Huishan NE (SRB)
2. Marijampole Mantinga (LTU)
3. Pirot (SRB)
4. Vienna (AUT)
5. Liman Huishan NE (SRB)
1. Evaldas Dziaugys(Marijampole Mantinga, LTU) 45 pts
2. Marko Brankovic (Ub Huishan NE, SRB) 35 pts
3. Stefan Kojic (Liman Huishan NE, SRB), 34 pts
4. Strahinja Stojacic (Ub Huishan NE, SRB) 33 pts
5. Carlos Martinez (Lausanne, SUI), 29 pts
- Second seeds Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL) fell in the quarters to Vienna (AUT)
- Teenaged star Denzel Agyeman shone for Hannover (GER) with a dazzling 11 points and 12 highlights against Pirot on Day One.
- Lausanne's Carlos Martinez produced two standout performances - a 14-point masterclass against Vienna on Day One then a triple-five in a quarter-final loss to Marijampole Mantinga.