SINGAPORE - Australia (men's) and Japan (women's) impressed on day three to storm into the quarter-finals of the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023.
Three-time defending champs Australia lived up to the hype and easily progressed to the knockout stage along with Iran, New Zealand and Qatar.
In the women's, No.2 seed Japan progressed to the quarter-finals and so too Australia, Chinese Taipei and Thailand.
The main draw started spectacularly after two days of qualification with Asia's biggest 3x3 event played at the famous Singapore Sports Hub OCBC Square, which is hosting the Asia Cup for the first time.
Pool B should have been renamed the 'Group of Death ' with No. 2 seed Japan pitted against last year's finalists Australia and New Zealand.
But Australia had few concerns and stretched their winning run in this event to 22 games (including the qualifying draw in 2018).
They were tested early against a previously unbeaten New Zealand - confident after four straight Ws having come from qualification - before clicking into gear and storming to a 21-13 victory.
Australia were then made to work against Japan before running away with the win.
In the women's, Japan are on a mission after missing out on the podium last year and made a great start with comfortable victories over Chinese Taipei and Singapore.
All-conquering Australia, who were unstoppable during qualification, starred again after easily beating India and Thailand.
Making his 3x3 debut, scoring machine Todd Blanchfield was unstoppable against New Zealand with 11 points.
The 31-year-old, who represents Australia in basketball too, showcased his liking for the half-court with pretty drives and sweet jumpers.
He added another 5 points in their win over Japan capped by a thunderous dunk to punctuate a perfect 3x3 debut for Blanchfield.
Having starred in major junior competitions last year, Yua Emura proved she was ready for the big Asia Cup stage with a pair of dazzling performances.
The 20-year-old sensation showed off her insane handles to finish with 12 points and 10 highlights in two games.
She might be diminutive but 5ft. 3in (1.6m) Emura proved to be a rebounding machine with 18 boards combined on day three.
Iran (men's) looked dead and buried when Almond Vosotros - a cold-blooded hero last year - hit a banked two to give Philippines a four-point lead with less than two minutes left.
But an inspired Iran scored the next seven points with Piter Girgoorian coming up big with 7 points and 11 boards to silence the loud Filipino fans in the crowd.
Iran then booked their spot in the quarters when Mohammadsina Vahedi's pretty layup - having missed two free throws to ice the game - broke the hearts of Qatar in a 21-19 thriller.
In the last game of the day, Qatar and Philippines were fighting for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Fittingly, it came down to the wire with Qatar seemingly having the edge but the Philippines wouldn't go away and were inspired by their passionate fans in the stands.
They levelled at 18 apiece but Souley Ndour proved the hero to score the last three points and secure Qatar's place into the quarters.
The Asia Cup continues on Day 4 with men's and women's Pool A and C play.
Pool A: Mongolia, Chinese Taipei, Singapore
Pool B: Japan, Australia, New Zealand
Pool C: China, India, Kazakhstan
Pool D: Philippines, Qatar, Iran
Pool A: China, Iran, Philippines,
Pool B: Japan, Chinese Taipei, Singapore
Pool C: Mongolia, Malaysia, New Zealand
Pool D: Thailand, India, Australia
Watch Day 4 of the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023 on our YouTube channel.