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Serbian powerhouses Novi Sad and Liman set to resume rivalry in star-studded Penang Challenger
PENANG (Malaysia) – Serbian powerhouses Novi Sad and Liman are set to resume their fierce rivalry in the star-studded Penang Challenger on May 11-12.
The two finalists in Penang will qualify for the Mexico City Masters on July 6-7 in the third stop on this season’s FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
Five of the top eight teams will be in Malaysia headlined by Novi Sad and Liman – the two best teams in the world. Piran (SLO), Ljubljana (SLO) and Gagarin (RUS) round out the top five seeds in the 16-team tournament.
Novi Sad will be looking to rebound after their incredible 35-game winning streak ended against Liman in an epic semi-final at the Doha Masters last month.
Even though they tasted sweet victory over their foes, Liman lost in the final to Riga Ghetto (LAT) and will be hoping to go one better in Penang but continue to be without the services of injured star Stefan Stojacic.
There is no guarantee it will be a Serbian showdown at the end. No.4 seeds Ljubljana are one of the teams hoping to spoil the party and they will be further motivated by the addition of Sasa Zagorac, who will join his older brother Zelimir.
The younger Zagorac is a national hero having been part of Slovenia’s incredible triumph at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 and he will add physicality to Ljubljana’s lineup.
The Penang event is incredibly deep with seventh seeds Moscow Inanomo (RUS) shaping as an x-factor after making a couple of changes.
The highly-rated Alexandr Pavlov has been included and tasted success at the highest levels as a gold medal winner with Russia at the 2015 European Games.
Young gun Mintautas Bulanovas from Lithuania also comes into the lineup and there is much fanfare over the 23-year-old after he impressed for Team Kaunas on the World Tour last year.
There are two teams from emerging 3x3 nation Australia with Wst Melbourne Stateside and Darwin expected to be highly competitive.
Wst Melbourne Stateside, particularly, will be one to watch having recently won the NBL 3x3 Pro Hustle and they upgraded with the addition of star Tim Coenraad, who is in hot form after a heroic performance last week helping Australia qualify for the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019.
Coenraad was especially brilliant against the Czech Republic as a depleted Australia sealed a World Cup ticket at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup Qualifiers in Puerto Rico.
Timmy Time ⌚— NBL (@NBL) May 6, 2019
Off the back of some trademark @coenraad22 sharp shooting from deep, the @BasketballAus 3x3 squad defeated the Czech Republic in a do or die affair. locking up the last @FIBA3x3 World Cup spot 🔒 #3x3WC pic.twitter.com/D45Nt0nzcV
The winner in Penang takes home $15,000 USD and there is $32,000 overall in prize money - a significant increase from $20,000 in challengers last year.
Riga Ghetto (LAT) and Princeton (USA) have already qualified for the Mexico Masters based on ranking.
Follow the event live on the official FIBA 3x3 YouTube channel.