Red-hot Antwerp seek hat-trick of titles at 3x3 Cergy-Pontoise Challenger
9 Jul 2021
CERGY-PONTOISE (France) - With their stars inching closer to the Olympics, confident Antwerp (BEL) will be aiming to continue their remarkable run on the pro circuit at the Cergy-Pontoise Challenger on July 10-11, 2021.
The brilliant Belgians have dominated the Challengers this season after triumphing in Lipik in May and Poitiers last week. But it's far from being a stroll for them in such a loaded field, which boasts some of the best 3x3 players in the world.
Located in the outskirts of Paris, Cergy-Pontoise becomes a new 3x3 capital as it hosts an official FIBA 3x3 competition for the first time.
The top 2 teams in Cergy-Pontoise will qualify for the Montreal Masters to be held on September 4-5.
Pool A: NY Harlem (1), Paris(8), Bielefeld TSVE (9) Pool B: Ub (2), Monaco Riviera (10), Qualifying Draw B winner Pool C: Princeton (3), Nantes (6), Qualifying Draw A winner Pool D: Lausanne Sport (4), Antwerp (5), Gurugram 3BL (13)
They might only be the No.5 seed but Antwerp are hotter than a Belgian frier.
Having recently qualified Belgium to the Olympics, this Nick Celis-led Antwerp are running through the competition and in Poitiers they defeated in-form Amsterdam Talent&Pro (NED), Ub (SRB) and Utena Uniclub (LTU) en route to glory.
They are far from a one-man band with Thibaut Vervoort having won MVP in Lipik and this team share like they care to be a four-headed monster.
But the competition will be fierce with Pool B top seed Ub out for revenge having fallen to Antwerp in the semis in Poitiers. Miroslav Pasajlic starred with 27 points from 4 games but the Serbs need a lift from main man Strahinja Stojacic, who was not his usual great in Poitiers.
And the draw also features much-loved American teams NY Harlem and Princeton. With mighty USA missing out on the Olympics, these American players will be fired up for redemption and looking to cheer up 2021.
No.1 seed NY Harlem has had a tough year so far having fallen short at the quarters at the Doha Masters and Lipik. But don't write off these New Yorkers who have some of the best in the business.
Dominique Jones aka 'Disco Domo' can still break ankles, while high-flyer Marcel Esonwune loves nothing more than breaking rims.
No.3 seed Princeton also are a World Tour power and too looking to get back on track having failed to get out of Day 1 in Doha. But they didn't have Robbie Hummel then and the walking bucket is keen to show he is still one of the baddest players on the circuit.
This will be more unpredictable than Netflix's Shuffle Play. Lausanne Sport are actually the top seed in a tough Pool D but will go in as underdog against the rampaging Belgians.
We all know that the Swiss can heat up quickly like a kettle. Gilles Martin is a lock to be in the top 5 plays of any event and Westher Molteni loves being on the throne. They exited at the quarters in Poitiers but are used to being up and down like a yo-yo so don't discount them!
There are a bunch of French teams looking to grab home court advantage headlined by in-form Nantes, who impressed in Poitiers after narrowly losing to Utena in the quarters.
These Frenchmen can shoot two-pieces like they are free throws but will be missing sharpshooter Timothe Vergiat meaning more pressure will be on fellow sniper Charly Pontens.
Even without Vergiat, the No.6 seed will be confident of upsetting rusty Princeton straight up in what looms as an intriguing two-day competition ahead of the Olympics.