4 Apr 2023
SINGAPORE - The wait was worth it with the 3x3 season starting spectacularly at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023 on March 29-April 2.
Here's all we learned from the five-day spectacle played for the first time at the famous Singapore Sports Hub OCBC Square.
Mongolia are warriors
Since memorably winning on home soil in 2017, Mongolia have had a lot of heartbreak at the Asia Cup.
They lost finals to Australia in 2018 and 2019 before being stunned by the Philippines during last year's quarter-finals when Almond Vosotros sunk a two-piece buzzer beater for the ages.
The defeat left Mongolia shaken and they vowed to make amends at this year's tournament, which launched the 3x3 season.
It wasn't easy with Mongolia almost losing their opener against Chinese Taipei before clicking into gear to storm into the semi-finals.
They then prevailed in an epic semi-final against New Zealand before beating three-time defending champs Australia in an incredible final.
Anand Ariunbold was deadlier than a Singapore Sling with a three-point play to clinch Mongolia's second Asia Cup title.
Through professionalism, this 3x3-crazy country keeps rising but you know they won't be satisfied until Mongolia is a global powerhouse.
🇲🇳 Mongolia’s got a new hero 🇲🇳— FIBA3x3 (@FIBA3x3) April 2, 2023
Anand came up clutch to give Mongolia their second #3x3Asia Cup 🥇 pic.twitter.com/Jjt3IuftoH
Australia are beatable
It took something special to beat them but Australia's dominance of the Asia Cup is over.
Their heart-breaking defeat against Mongolia snapped their 24-game winning streak in the event, but Australia lost few fans as they showed trademark fight to storm back before Ariunbold's heroics.
Australia were still formidable and added sniper Todd Blanchfield, who seemed at home on the half-court and he's only going to get better in 3x3.
We'll see Australia next at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2023 and they'll be hungrier than ever before.
Australia's brilliant women's team were unstoppable
Australia did leave Singapore with a gold medal thanks to their irresistible women's team.
A typhoon swept through the Singapore Sports Hub and its name was Team Australia, who were a class above.
No team scored more than 11 points against them as Australia avenged falling short last year to win their third gold medal at the Asia Cup.
They have all bases covered with MVP Marena Whittle, superstar Anneli Maley and newcomer Alex Wilson all athletic marvels while speedy Lauren Mansfield is cold-blooded from deep.
It's a perfectly constructed team and we're dying to see more. Hopefully we'll see the awesome Aussies more regularly because they are box office entertainment.
The #3x3Asia 🏆 is going down under 🇦🇺🌏 pic.twitter.com/dp8OYG855y— FIBA3x3 (@FIBA3x3) April 2, 2023
Wynyard is all heart
After New Zealand fell short to Mongolia in the semis, big fella Tai Wynyard was visibly shattered.
He and his teammates looked exhausted and naturally devastated after their gold medal dreams ended.
They could have been forgiven for a let down against a strong China team in the bronze medal game, but Wynyard refused to go home without a medal.
He inspired a rally with the 6ft. 8in (2.03m) beast finding energy to continually attack the rim as New Zealand overwhelmed China to win bronze.
It was a performance full of heart from Wynyard, who finished on the Team of the Tournament after a spectacular Asia Cup.
New teams are emerging
The talent is spreading across Asia with new teams emerging led by Thailand's women, who stunned powerhouse Japan in the quarters.
They weren't the only ones to impress with Iran (men's) making the quarters after needing to qualify for the main draw. Their strong run ended with a tough loss to New Zealand, but Iran loom as a force in the future.
And host Singapore (men) showed plenty of passion to advance out of the pool phase and then fought hard to push powerful China in the quarters.
Singapore's energy 🇸🇬😍#3x3Asia pic.twitter.com/rWRnSffqcn— FIBA3x3 (@FIBA3x3) April 1, 2023
Singapore Sports Hub was an amazing venue
The Asia Cup returned to Singapore for the second straight year, but for the first time was played at the iconic Singapore Sports Hub OCBC Square.
The venue has hosted many famous sports events over the years and now it was 3x3's chance to shine.
What resulted was a spectacular showcase of the Asia Cup with packed stands of passionate fans making the Singapore Sports Hub OCBC Square the place to be in Singapore.