Everything we learned from FIBA 3x3 World Tour Utrecht Masters 2022
26 Sep 2022
UTRECHT (Netherlands) - The first-ever FIBA 3x3 Utrecht Masters on September 24-25 was worth the wait with the emergence of several exciting teams, but mighty Liman Huishan NE (SRB) flexed their muscles to claim a breakthrough title.
Let's look back at the seventh Masters of the season.
Liman are back on top
It was just a matter of time. We knew one of 3x3's GOATs wouldn't be down for too long on the World Tour.
Liman had been literally unbeatable with an incredible 5 titles and 25 straight wins in Challengers, but only endured heartbreak on the World Tour. We wouldn't have blamed them if they were teary-eyed like Federer and Nadal.
But the Serbs aren't down for too long and they ended their curse spectacularly in Utrecht to have success on the World Tour for the first time since memorably winning last year's Jeddah Final.
The No.1 seed went undefeated but didn't have it all their own with tough pool wins over Lublin Lotto (POL) and Paris (FRA) in an early final's preview.
They could have been forgiven feeling a bit worried heading into their doomsday of the quarter-finals, where they had lost three times this season in cruel fashion, but Liman held their nerve.
They beat improving compatriots Belgrade Partizan (SRB) in a tight quarter-final then had more comfortable wins over Sakiai Gulbele (LTU) and Paris in the decider.
We warned you that sniper Stefan Kojic was ready to fire on all cylinders and the 30-year-old was on target with an MVP performance culminating in a triple-five in the final. He also topped all players in scoring (49) and player value (43).
Liman are back with a World Tour trophy, but you just know they'll be hungry for more.
Let's give a major shout out to new kids on the block Paris! You might have seen them emerge on the pro circuit but these Frenchmen proved the World Tour stage wasn't too big for them with an eye-catching runner-up finish.
The eighth seed's only two losses of the event were to Liman and they proved to be the Netherlands' No.1 Enemy after assassins Franck Seguela and Paul Djoko hit Maurice Lacroix Buzzer Beaters to take down Amsterdam HiPRO (NED) and Utrecht (NED).
Seguela was the second highest scorer of the event, while 24-year-old excitement machine Djoko lived up to his reputation as a natural born entertainer to finish second in highlights (17).
After watching this flying Dutchman put on a show for two days, we feel like those dudes in Wayne's World bowing down to rock legend Alice Cooper and chanting 'we're not worthy!".
Not long after he put on a clinic at FIBA EuroBasket 2022, Worthy de Jong proved he was right at home on the half-court with a show-stopping performance to lead hometown heroes Utrecht into the semis.
The lean mean De Jong finished fourth in scoring with 30 points in 4 games, but you just knew he was going to top No.1 in highlights (25). He produced one of the most electric performances we've seen on the World Tour with an insane double-double of 11 points and 12 - yes, that's no typo! - highlights against Marijampole Mantinga (LTU).
This human highlight reel is most certainly worthy of your attention.
But they were never in the hunt against Sakiai Gulbele in the quarters in a reality check for Antwerp who crashed back to earth.
Henry takes the dunking crown
Joel Henry might be the real king after this British high-flyer took over Utrecht with a dunking exhibition to take out the Talent & Pro Dunk Contest.
Henry aka 'The Royal Guard' has done it before on the World Tour (in Lausanne last month for instance) and once again showed off his bunnies with a slew of jaw-dropping dunks.
Click below, sit back and check out the King of Utrecht take the dunk crown.
Utrecht was a lit World Tour venue!
For the first time ever, the World Tour travelled to the Netherlands and what a wild ride it was in Utrecht!
The medieval city can be added to the list of memorable 3x3 venues with the four-level pop-up closed outdoor arena, marked by the Magic Sky canopy system, creating an incredible atmosphere which felt part night-club, part sports venue.
The place was absolutely rocking and more history was made with the Utrecht Masters being the first World Tour event organized by an NGO - 3x3Unites - who use 3x3 to connect and empower people.