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Top teams explain strategy behind FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters draft picks
With the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2017 approaching and for the first time ever, the top 8 3x3 teams in the World were given the opportunity to choose their destinations in a live draft a few days ago. The top teams are listed below:
1. Novi Sad Al Wahda (UAE) picked Mexico City (1st), Prague (5th) and Debrecen (7th)
2. Ljubljana (SLO) picked Saskatoon (2nd) and Utsunomiya (6th) and will go to Debrecen
3. Piran (SLO) picked Chengdu (3rd) and will go to Utsunomiya
4. Saskatoon (CAN) picked Lausanne (4th) and will go to Prague
5. Krakow R8 Basket (POL) will go to Lausanne
6. Kranj (SLO) will go to Chengdu
7. Hamamatsu (JPN) will go to Saskatoon
8. Zemun (SRB) will go to Mexico City
Our 3x3 expert Drew Ruiz spoke to the captains of the top 4 teams to find out about their thought process during the draft and how excited they were about the outcome.
Why'd you have these cities so high?
Dusan Bulut (Novi Sad Al Wahda, UAE): Yes, we chose Mexico because, for us, it’s the hardest to qualify and then after that we chose Prague and Debrecen because we have a possibility to qualify for the other 4 World Tour stops. That was our simple plan.
Jasmin Hercegovac (Ljubljana, SLO): European Masters weren’t our top priority because traveling in Europe is cheaper than traveling in Asia. I think all the top teams got what they wanted.
Gašper Ovnik (Piran, SLO): We chose those cities because they're outside of Europe and it is hard to reach them via the Challengers around the world. So the decision was easy. It's easier for us to travel around the Europe and chase European Masters.
Michael Linklater (Saskatoon, CAN): We really enjoyed these places [Lausanne and Prague] last season and have established great relationships with the local people of these cities. The competition is great, the events are fabulous, and the people are wonderful.
How happy are you to go to the places you've selected?
DB: The first Masters we selected was in Mexico and we like to play in the Americas because of their style of play and it’s an interesting country for us. We’ve never been there, so that was our first time picking there. We are very excited to go there and compete. Second and third was European qualifiers in Prague and Debrecen. We’ve been there last year and [won] Prague in 2014 and Debrecen in 2016. We’re excited that the season is starting soon.
"We want to be the 1st team to play in all 7 World Tour Masters."
JH: Very happy especially for Saskatoon. [I’ve] never been to North America. To see the U.S. and Canada, I want to see every part of the world so this is the step in the right direction. Honestly, the other Masters, everything will be OK. Utsunomiya, last year, was very nice. I was ultimately surprised about everything. For me, it’s a great place to be.
GO: We were pretty excited because we got two of the top three picks that were on our list. We can now focus on the European part of the tour and try to do our best here.
ML: We are very happy to have these places selected. Attending both of these events last year gives us a good understanding of what to expect, logistic and venue wise. We know competition will always be strong. We are satisfied with the masters selected because these are some of the best events on the World Tour.
You can follow Drew on @DrewRuiz90