There were high expectations for Michael Linklater and his 3 Saskatoon teammates as they represented Canada at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup earlier this month, especially after they had a perfect 4-0 record in the pool phase. But the tournament ended abruptly with a quarter final loss against the Netherlands.
Team Saskatoon proved that setback would not affect the rest of their 3x3 season as they won their 2nd Challenger of the season (after their win in GoYang, South Korea).
After stuttering on their opener (a 13-18 loss to Ralja Intergalactic), the Canadians won their next 4, with 2 wins against Top 10 teams in the world (Riga (LAT) and Kranj (SLO)).
After breaking the rim at the dunk contest, Michael Lieffers aka 'Maple Lief' gave Saskatoon a lift in a one-sided 21-9 in the final against a surprising The Hague team, which beat last year's World Tour winners Zemun (SRB) in pool play.
Both Saskatoon and The Hague won a pass to the World Tour Chengdu Masters, which will take place on September 29-30. This will mark The Hague's first World Tour appearance with this roster. Saskatoon had already secured a spot for the Saskatoon Masters by winning the GoYang Challenger.
Liman Tesla Voda (SRB), Riga (LAT), Moscow Inanomo (RUS) and Ulaanbaatar (MGL) are the other 4 teams who have already stamped their ticket to the Chengdu Masters.
Eight of the Top 20 teams in the world (including 4 from the Top 10) and a total of 16 teams from10 different countries competed in Hang Zhou.
The next Challenger will be held in Lipik, Croatia on June 22-23.