What Crelan’s FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2022 taught us
Following a phenomenal Crelan FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2022, which took place from June 21-26, it was clear that the wait for 3×3’s premier competition had been well worth it.
Groenplaats in Antwerp was rocked nonstop by the entertainment, which drew sellout audiences and produced a lighted environment that could only be produced by 3×3.
Before we get back to the professional circuit, let’s take a moment to discuss this historic competition and the lessons that we took away from the seventh FIBA 3×3 World Cup.
Same outcome with a different team
Serbia’s all-conquering men’s team has now won five – yes, five! – World Cups.
Serbia’s latest victory, a decade after winning the first-ever 3×3 World Cup in Athens, may have been their greatest, given that this was a new-look team. There were no Dusan Bulut or Marko Savic, legendary 3×3 players who had previously played in four World Cup victories.
It didn’t matter because newcomers Strahinja Stojacic and Marko Brankovic blended in well with veteran Dejan Majstorovic and big man Mihailo Vasic, who combined for 87 points.
However, the No.1 seeds were put to the test early on against New Zealand and Puerto Rico before reaching their best form in the knockout stage.
Even a rowdy home crowd cheering on their Belgian heroes in the semi-finals couldn’t shake these Serbians, who could launch their own Marvel franchise because these guys are always box office.
They went undefeated to solidify Serbia’s legacy as the gold standard in men’s 3×3.
The “Maestro” is unquestionably the winner
It’s in Dejan Majstorovic’s DNA to succeed. The Serb’s four World Cup victories make him the most decorated player in 3×3 history, joining his former Novi Sad teammates Bulut and Savic.
The quality of “The Maestro” is also rising. Even though he won MVP at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup in the thick of his prime five years ago, he’s holding up better than Tom Cruise has at the same age.
Since making the switch from Novi Sad to Ub, the strongest team on the FIBA 3×3 World Tour this season, the 34-year-old has found new life on the court.
The smooth shooter is still the guy you want the Wilson with in a close game, but he’s also developed into one of the game’s top leaders. He has now established his place in history without the aid of his former teammates, Majstorovic.
However, he is not yet finished. Dejan Majstorovic’s goal is to win the most 3×3 trophies of any player in history and break all existing records in the process. Don’t ever underestimate this victor.
Guapo demonstrates that she is still the queen
Laetitia Guapo was the best women’s 3×3 player for a while, but she had a bad year in 2021, which was made worse by the fact that France, which was the favorite, didn’t win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 26-year-old went to Antwerp to prove something, and she did. Guapo did a great job of leading a new-look France team to their first women’s World Cup gold medal.
Many people had stopped cheering for France because they thought they had been passed, but Les Bleues went on a magical run, led by their superstar, who made all the big shots, made plays off the dribble, and often had to defend the biggest players on a small-ball French team.
Guapo’s 9 huge points helped them beat China in the semi-finals, and he then tied for the team high with 5 points against Canada in the final.
Some people gave up on the 6ft, 1.82m star, but she never gave up on herself. She led France to their best moment in 3×3 and won MVP along the way.
Currently, Lithuania is a 3×3 powerhouse
Lithuania has long been a basketball superpower, but success in 3×3 has been sporadic, so it hasn’t exactly translated. After winning silver (men’s) and placing fourth (women’s) in Antwerp, their standing has now improved.
Many people may have underestimated the men’s No. 2 seed, but we should all have given them more respect. After convincingly defeating the USA 21-11 in the quarterfinals, France was narrowly defeated in the semifinals, and Lithuania made a statement before losing to Serbia in the championship game.
After making it rain in Antwerp, Darius Tarvydas was the tournament’s top scorer and was colder than the winter in Lithuania. But he got a lot of help, and he and Ignas Vaitkus combined for a devastating one-two punch.
The women were almost as deadly, as the ninth-seeded team had a fantastic run until succumbing to China in the bronze medal match.
Kamile Nacickaite, who played outstanding and finished with a ridiculous 45 points to lead the women’s draw, was the driving force behind their achievement.
Lithuania debuted in 3×3 and isn’t going anywhere despite being overshadowed by many Eastern European superpowers.
In one of the most touching moments in 3×3 history, men’s team standout Marijus Uzupis proposed to his girlfriend and women’s team player Martyna Petrenaite after winning the silver medal.
Chinese women adore being on stage
China’s performances tend to be more impressive on larger stages. The 18th seed’s championship defense was outstanding, as they finished in bronze, which is the same medal they earned at the Olympics in Tokyo the previous year.
Their hopes of winning back-to-back championships were dashed when they were defeated by France in the semifinals by a score of 17-16, but they have reason to be proud of their achievements.
They were led by ZhiTang Zhang, who intimidated their competitors from a low position, and Lili Wang, a dynamic player who was selected for the Team of the Tournament.
China had again demonstrated that their seeding in major competitions does not matter because they consistently perform above and beyond expectations.
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