Everything we learned from FIBA 3x3 Women's Series Final 2022
19 Sep 2022
CONSTANTA (Romania) - This incredible FIBA 3x3 Women's Series 2022 fittingly ended in style in picturesque Constanta with Canada capping a dominant season to take out the third edition of the showpiece event on September 17-18.
Let's look back at the entertaining two-day spectacle, which had everything and more to end the best ever Women's Series with a bang.
Canada sit on the throne
The No.1 seed entered with hype having won 3 of 5 Stops they contested (out of a total of 11) and lived up to the expectations by memorably claiming the most prestigious prize on the women's pro circuit.
Led by the Plouffe sisters - it's really unfair for opponents that there are two of them! - Canada steamrolled through the best teams in the business en routed to the decider.
In a rematch of the Crelan FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2022 final against a desperate France seeking a third major title, Canada were finally pushed but they had all the answers.
Canada finished the season with an insane 25-3 record - 89% winning percentage for those who struggle with maths - and it wasn't just the Plouffe sisters doing their thing.
Along with ever reliable Paige Crozon and Kacie Bosch, Canada's chemistry was straight out of a lab and they showed more x and o's than tic-tac-toe.
Congratulations, the best team of the Women's Series 2022!
She's No.1 for good reason. The rankings tell us this and so does the eye test. Any doubt over Michelle Plouffe's status is over after the 30-year-old was the stand out in a field with many of the game's best players.
In the final against France, with World Cup 2022 MVP Laeitia Guapo eyeing the crown herself, Plouffe took over with one of the most dominant performances we've seen.
The 6ft. 3in (1.9m) superstar finished with a monster 14-point, 11-highlight (4 drives. 4 blocks, 3 key assists) performance in a rare double-double in 3x3 considering the game's short time span.
It underlined that no one can control a 3x3 game quite like Plouffe who gets to hold the coveted status of best player alive for now having led almost every major stats category in Constanta.
Here's a tip for kids already thinking of Halloween costumes. Dress up in a No.1 Canada jersey because no one is scarier than Michelle Plouffe on the half-court.
After winning the World Cup and Europe Cup, France were hoping to close out a memorable year with a third major title.
It wasn't quite to be with rival Canada proving too good in their two clashes in Constanta, but France again showed why they are such a consistently great 3x3 nation.
They overcame rising Dusseldorf ZOOS (GER) in a tense quarter-final before knocking out hoops power USA in a classic semi-final, where Laetitia Guapo took over with a game-high 9 points.
Having delivered such a brilliant season, it was only fitting for Guapo to star in Constanta highlighted by a ridiculous 9-point, 12-rebound, 6-highlight masterclass against Lithuania in the pool stage.
The 26-year-old remains in the conversation for best player in the game, but you just know she won't be content and will come back with more tricks in her already deep bag.
The Canada-France rivalry is insane
More of these two squaring off like heavyweight fighters, please. Loaded with stars and depth of talent, naturally the standard lifts when these 3x3 powerhouses meet.
There's something really brewing in this growing rivalry after France edged Canada to claim 3x3's biggest prize in Antwerp only for Canada to flex their muscles twice in Constanta, including in a brilliantly fought decider.
Canada have the bragging rights for now but you know that will just motivate France even more for the next time the rivalry renews. We just can't wait for the hottest battle in 3x3 to restart.
Near misses for Germany and USA
Semi-finalists Germany and USA will need to go back to the drawing board over the break and find a way to improve just a little bit more. They aren't far away but couldn't quite find their best when it mattered most, especially defending champs Germany who started the season bang, bang before falling away.
They were unlucky to not have the services of Alexandra Wilke against Canada in the semis which helps explain the lop-sided 21-8 result. Still, the signs were there for a while as Germany were overtaken by their competitors and they will need to find ways to snatch back the crown.
USA looked in awesome form in the pool stage, including thrashing Germany, before falling in a heartbreak to France in the semis. They didn't do a lot wrong but it's a reminder that the margin between glory and defeat is very slim in 3x3.
But they did provide some highlights which we will never forget. Most notably, Linnae Harper sending her defender take a seat and burying yet another 2-pointer (she led the Women's Series in 2-point percentage with 45.2% on the season - a landslide over second-ranked Takakuma Yumi at 37%).
While 3x3's stars made their mark, the Next Gen showed 3x3's pool of women's talent is deeper than ever.
Sharpshooter Lauren Cox was unconscious throughout with the 24-year-old leading star-studded USA's charge, while France dynamo Hortense Limouzin lived up the hype with another eye-catching performance marked by a triple-five in the semi-against USA.
And Alina-Maria Podar, who is just 23 years of age like her jersey number, proved she was born clutch with a buzzer beater for the ages to get the W for Romania against Lithuania in front of the home fans.
Remember the name because she's just getting started.