Eight epic moments in Abu Dhabi's 3x3 history

21 Oct 2021

ABU DHABI (United Arab Emirates) – The fifth Masters of this insane World Tour season will head to Abu Dhabi, where history will be made in this historic 3x3 site.

The United Arab Emirates capital on October 29-30 will host its first ever Masters but it did have the honor of staging consecutive World Tour Finals in 2015-16.

Some of 3x3's greatest ever moments have been captured in this world famous locale and surely a few more will be created very soon.

To get you hyped, let's look back at the finest moments staged in Abu Dhabi.

Lipek vs Kilganon dunk contest (2015)

This dunk off between Canadian Jordan 'Mission Impossible' Kilganon and Rafal 'Lipek' Lipinski from Poland is one of the all-timers.

These dunking daredevils spat out wore 10s than an ATM with Kilganon constantly performing stunts Tom Cruise is not even game to do in Mission Impossible 7.

He memorably jumped over two motorbikes and then soared over a volunteer and paid tribute to the 'Mailman' – Karl Malone – as the Canadian was delivering dizzying dunks.

You only got one volunteer? Try three! That's what 'Lipek' said as he jumped over a trio of volunteers like he was on Emirates Airline.

And it was the pole who stole the show with 'Lipek' paying homage to White Men Can't Jump – except this dude sure can jump as he leapt over a trio of volunteers standing on chairs!

There haven't been many dunk contests better than this.

Manila North shock the world (2015)

Abu Dhabi was turned into Manila after a night for the ages in the World Tour Final 2015.

On the brink of elimination after an opening loss to Kranj, Manila North stunned Team Doha with a 16-14 victory which was inspired by the hot hand of Calvin Abueva who instantly became a Filipino legend.

There have been few better scenes than a frenzied Filipino crowd willing an inspired Manila North, who were seemingly possessed as they qualified for a surprise quarter-final berth.

Bulut and Dejan save Novi Sad vs Piran/Trbovlje (2015)

Defending champs Novi Sad were hot favorites to repeat but were in big trouble in the semis against Piran (who were Trbovlje back then).

Led by Simon Finzgar, who made the defenders appear mummified, the Slovenians edged ahead for most of the game but Novi Sad would not go away.

It came down to the dying seconds and one of the great 3x3 finishes. A Finzgar bucket gave Piran a 14-12 lead with 48 seconds left and then neither team could score under pressure. With seconds left, Dejan Majstorovic aka 'the Maestro' hit a tough contested two to tie the scores and force OT.

It was then Dusan Bulut's turn for the heroics. You know, 3x3's GOAT. In the first possession of overtime, 'Mr Bullutproof' drained a two to break Piran's hearts and send Novi Sad into a third straight decider in the World Tour Final.

Novi Sad were on another level when 'Mr Bullutproof' and the ‘Maestro’ were a one-two punch.

Caguas buzzer beater vs Kranj (2016)

No.12 seed Caguas were underdogs against No.5 Kranj but this Pool D epic was a day one blockbuster that has never been forgotten.

The Puerto Ricans brought the heat with Jonathan Garcia providing the sizzle with a game-high 14 points as Caguas jumped out to an early lead. But this contest was always destined to go down to the wire and so it proved in a finale that has become immortal in 3x3's incredibly rich short history.

It was locked at 20 apiece with two minutes left but then the nerves set in as both teams went ice cold. There were some fairly easy shots missed but Garcia decided enough was enough.

He launched toward the rack but Kranj defenders were there in numbers but that didn't stop Garcia who took the contact and spun in mid-air before flipping up an incredible Tissot Buzzer Beater.

He should have been renamed 'Air Garcia' after playing hero.

Hercegovac scores 50 points, leads Ljubljana to 2016 title

Jasmin Hercegovac has one of the great 3x3 nicknames – 'the Iceman'. Forget Val Kilmer in Top Gun, this spectacular Slovenian is the real 'Iceman' as he proved during the World Tour Final 2016 when he led an unfancied Ljubljana to a dominant title-run.

In one of the most spectacular individual performances in 3x3 history, Hercegovac lit up Abu Dhabi with an array of hot shooting to finish with a dazzling 50 points in 5 games.

He was at his absolute best at the business end with an insane 13 points in the semi-final against Caguas and then 11 points in the final against surprise packets Hamamatsu.

It's the crowning moment in a solid career for Hercegovac – and Ljubljana.

Miller wins drunk contest (2016)

It's Miller Time often in 3x3 dunk contests but perhaps none more so than on this night in Abu Dhabi when Vadim Poddubchenko went to another level.

Doug Anderson from the USA had some amazing dunks that normally would have taken the crown but they were Child's Play compared to the unreal Ukrainian.

He had steam coming out of his shoes like he was in Space Jam 2 as 'Miller' made the ridiculous look easy like with one filthy dunk when he slammed over two people on a motorbike!

It's impossible to do justice with words. So just sit back, grab some popcorn and re-live Miller Time.

Hamamatsu shocks the world (2016)

3x3's history has been filled with underdog teams causing major upsets and going on incredible runs. Japanese team Hamamatsu did exactly that when they reached the decider of the World Tour Final 2016 as the 11th seed.

Their giant-killing run started when they toppled No.3 seed Piran on Day 1 then highly-talented Chicago 21-16 in the quarters, where they held future NBA player Alfonzo McKinnie – who later would play with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James – to just 1 point!

But they did something even more incredible when they toppled the 2-time defending World Tour Final champs Novi Sad in the semis with a convincing 21-14 win – one of the craziest upsets in World Tour Final history.

Bikramjit Gill stole the show and outplayed a full-strength Novi Sad to finish with game highs of 10 points and 8 rebounds. But it was a collective effort on defense with Hamamatsu suffocating the world No.1's firepower as Dusan Bulut ran out of bullets and scored just 5 points.

Hamamatsu ran out of puff in the final against Ljubljana but it's a fan favorite performance that still gets a lot of buzz.

Bjelica's nasty crossover (2016)

There is good reason why Dragan Bjelica is nicknamed 'Mr Crossover'. Just ask poor Jonathan Garcia from Caguas who didn't stand a chance - quite literally - against the Serb crossover king.

Inspired by NBA legend Tim Hardaway, Bjelica took his handles to a whole another level as he tormented sorry defenders in his path.

He has a highlight reel of ankle breakers but none better than this epic from the World Tour Final in 2016.

FIBA