MIES (FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2018) – Two-time FIBA 3x3 World Tour winners Novi Sad (SRB) selected to play at the Quito and Saskatoon Masters and will also compete in Debrecen and Lausanne following the World Tour Masters draft.
For the second straight year, the top 8 teams in the FIBA 3x3 Team Ranking at the start of the season (also known as the hard-seeded teams) were given a direct access to the FIBA 3x3 World Tour, according to the World Tour handbook.
The hard-seeded teams were allocated in pairs to Masters in this order:
- Top 1 & 8: Masters A
- Top 2 & 7: Masters B
- Top 3 & 6: Masters C
- Top 4 & 5: Masters D
- Top 1 & 6: Masters E
- Top 2 & 5: Masters F
- Top 3 & 4: Masters G
- Top 1 & 2: Masters H
- Top 1 & 7: Masters I
In other words,
- Every Masters gets 2 hard-seeded teams.
- Only the top 4 teams in the Ranking had an opportunity to pick a Masters; the teams ranked 5 to 8 were automatically seeded where the teams ranked 1 to 4 opted to play.
- The team ranked 1st will automatically play in 4 Masters.
- The team ranked 2nd will automatically play in 3 Masters.
- The teams ranked 3rd to 7th will automatically play in 2 Masters.
- The team ranked 8th will automatically play in 1 Masters.
The number one team in the Ranking Novi Sad (SRB) opened the draft by using their first pick to compete in the first edition of the Quito Masters. The World Tour 2014 and 2015 winners won the only World Tour event they did in South America (Rio de Janeiro Masters 2015).
Novi Sad star and number one 3x3 player in the world Dejan Majstorovic explained the rationale behind the decision:
"We chose Quito first because we really had just one chance to qualify (via the Penang Challenger). Of course I heard about Quito and Ecuador before but I've never been and it'll be a fun discovery for me and the team."
Following the World Tour handbook, the number 8 squad in the Ranking – Belgrade (SRB) – also won a direct berth to the Quito Masters.
World Tour 2017 winners but second in the Team Ranking Zemun (SRB) selected another brand new event, the Kuala Lumpur Masters with the second pick.
The number 7 squad in the FIBA 3x3 Team Ranking – Kranj (SLO) – will join Zemun in the Malaysian capital in a possible rematch of the quarter-finals of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Bloomage Beijing Final 2017.
Liman (SRB) chose the Chengdu Masters with their third pick.
The number 6 squad in the FIBA 3x3 Team Ranking – Riga (LAT) – also gets a direct spot to the Chengdu Masters.
Piran (SLO) used their fourth pick on the Mexico City Masters, where they reached the semi-finals last year.
The number 5 squad in the FIBA 3x3 Team Ranking and 2-time winners – Ljubljana (SLO) - will make their first-ever visit to the Mexican capital.
Novi Sad used their second pick and 5th pick overall on the Saskatoon Masters.
This means the number 6 team in the ranking Riga also get to fly to Canada.
"We were hoping to go to Chengdu," Majstorovic admitted.
"Simply because we also have limited options to qualify there. But we are very happy to go with Saskatoon. Last year we were supposed to participate but had visa issues. There is a strong Serbian community in Saskatoon and they have contacted me on Instagram already. They said they'll prepare a good Serbian goulash for us!"
Zemun went with Utsunomiya with their second personal pick and 6th pick overall.
As a result Ljubljana also earned a ticket to Japan.
With their second pick, Liman (SRB) opted to go to Prague, where they have never played. Piran (SLO) will join them in the Czech capital.
Novi Sad got an automatic spot in the 2 remaining Masters in Lausanne and Debrecen, bringing back opposite memories for the sharpshooting Majstorovic.
"Lausanne last year is a great memory," 'The Maestro explained.
"I really liked the venue and the audience. It is one of the best Masters I have played. Last year we won without Dusan [Bulut] and I hope he's able to join this year to defend our title!"
"Obviously if you talk about Debrecen, the memories aren't quite as good as I nearly broke my leg there in 2016 and lost on a crazy shot at the last second last year. But I feel great about going back there and our 4 selections. Like last year, we wanna qualify for every Masters. We're already training 2 to 3 times a day and our first event comes on April 21-22 in Nanjing, where we hope to get our ticket to the Chengdu Masters."
The teams will now look to earn their ticket to more Masters via the World Tour qualifiers (premium international challengers and national quests).