27 Apr 2023
UTSUNOMIYA (Japan) - 3x3's best players have been in the lab during the off-season and we get to see the results at the FIBA 3x3 Utsunomiya Opener 2023 on April 29-30.
Here are the top players you just have to watch in Utsunomiya.
Strahinja Stojacic (Ub Huishan NE)
He's No.1 for a reason after this spectacular Serb unleashed one of the best seasons in World Tour history.
'Doctor Strange' dominated the 3x3 multiverse in 2022 with a trio of Masters MVPs and being the main man for Ub Huishan NE, who finished at the top of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2022.
The stats confirmed what we all saw with the 6ft. 6in (1.98m) athletic marvel leading most of the major categories, including overall scoring.
It seems almost an impossible task to follow, but you just know Stojacic would have spent the off-season finding ways to get better to once again prove to the world that the 3x3 crown is his.
Worthy de Jong (Amsterdam HiPRO)
This high-flying Dutchman burst onto the World Tour last season and put Utrecht on the map with jaw-dropping performances to probably be the best newcomer.
The 6ft. 4in (1.93m) excitement machine became an instant crowd favorite with his ridiculous moves filled with posterizers, sick dimes and impossible shot making.
But he's aiming for an even bigger impact after crossing over to No.1 Dutch team Amsterdam HiPRO. He's hoping to be the difference maker for Amsterdam, who frustratingly kept getting knocked out in the semi finals.
This dude has nerves of steel and might be able to lift Amsterdam up a level to prove he's most certainly worthy of being a prized recruit.
Marijus Uzupis (Raudondvaris Hoptrans)
This lethal Lithuanian unleashed his famous Uzi and fired from all over the half-court during a spectacular World Tour 2022.
He averaged 6 ppg last World Tour and was part of Sakiai Gulbele's victory in Hong Kong, where he poured in 41 points and connected on 46% from two-point range.
The 6ft. 6in (1.97m) sharpshooter might just be one of the most underrated players in 3x3, but dare leave him open and you'll soon pay the price.
Miroslav Pasajlic (Riga)
Powerhouse Riga might have lost superheroes Karlis Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis, but lightning quick Miroslav Pasajlic will help fill the void.
The 6ft. 3in (1.9m) Pasajlic is a natural born winner having been part of mighty Liman's line-up in recent seasons and he should be able to seamlessly fit alongside Riga legends Agnis Cavars and Edgars Krumins.
With the Wilson set to run through him, Pasajlic has a chance to show off his insane handles and ability to get into heat check mode quickly.
Quincy Diggs (Vienna)
If de Jong wasn't the best newcomer in 2022 then it was Quincy Diggs, who starred for Vienna late in the season and propelled to the top ranking for American players.
The 6ft. 6in (1.98m) Diggs loves the big stage as he proved during an unstoppable performance at the Abu Dhabi Final, where he helped lead Vienna into the final.
The dude can score anywhere on the half-court and we can't wait to see what he's added to his already impressive 3x3 bag of tricks.
Caspar Augustijnen (Antwerp TOPdesk)
The World Tour is in good hands because the next gen are making their mark.
There might not be a more exciting prospect than this 6ft 8in (2.03m) dude with Inspector Gadget arms, who instantly became a key part of powerhouse Antwerp.
The 24-year-old has superstar written all over him with his ability to dominate the paint while also stretching the floor. Oh and be careful about driving to the basket because Augustijnen's insane reach can seemingly touch the sky.
With Thibaut Vervoort having left Antwerp, Augustijnen is set to take center stage as he eyes stardom.
Jimmer Fredette (Miami)
Buckle up because 'Jimmer Mania' is about to hit Utsunomiya with former NBA player and college star Jimmer Fredette making his World Tour debut.
Fredette had a taste of 3x3 when he helped USA defend their title at the FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup 2022. The 6ft. 2in (1.88m) Fredette clearly liked what he saw and wants to continue playing with his gold medal winning teammates, who form new kids on the block Miami.
With his legion of fans, Fredette might be the most watched player in Utsunomiya and he's out to show his skills translate beautifully on the half-court.
Anand Ariunbold (Sansar MMC Energy)
There might not be a player heading to Utsunomiya with more confidence than assassin Anand Ariunbold, who became a national hero when he made the three-point play to lead Mongolia to glory at FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023.
This dude has it all and was named the World Tour's Most Spectacular Player last year. But not only can he pull off insane moves, the 6ft 5in (1.96m) loves nothing more than hitting daggers - as he showed in Singapore.
He's a bad man who is determined to win more silverware and lead Sansar to history as the first Mongolian team to win a Masters title.
Yosuke Saito (Utsunomiya BREX)
The 6ft (1.84m) Saito is often the shortest player on the half-court, but don't think that stops him from doing whatever he wants.
He's faster than a Honda down the lane as he showed when Saito helped Utsunomiya win the recent FIBA 3x3 Ulaanbaatar Super Quest.
If he continues his hot form then Saito might just inspire Utsunomiya to go on another giant-killing run.