Best moments in FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup history
SINGAPORE - We've been waiting a long time, but the launch of the season is just weeks away with the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023 set to explode in Singapore on March 29-April 2.
To get you hyped, let's look back at the eight greatest moments from Asia's biggest event.
Mongolia win first-ever basketball gold medal (2017)
Far-flung Mongolia have become one of the best stories in 3x3 with the 21-point game quickly taking the country by storm.
It is the most popular team sport in the nomadic country with Mongolia having over the years been highly competitive in both men's and women's categories and the East Asian nation has also hosted many events.
All this success essentially started at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2017, where Mongolia (men) thrilled the loud home fans in Ulaanbaatar to claim the country's first ever gold medal in any form of hoops.
They did it the hard way by beating the region's powerhouses Australia and New Zealand in the knockout stages with Dulguun Enkhbat - the man with perfect hair - taking out the MVP.
3x3 in Mongolia would never be the same again.
China win first Asia Cup (2022)
China's women had stamped themselves as a 3x3 powerhouse after winning the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019.
But winning the Asia Cup had proven harder until their memorable breakout last year, where China beat arch-rival and defending champs Australia in the final.
Superstar Lili Wang was all buckets to claim the MVP as China cemented their status as Asia's powerhouse women's nation.
Abarrientos steals the show (2019)
Against Iran at the Asia Cup 2019, Philippines were considered major underdogs but RJ Abarrientos had other ideas as he produced one of the great 3x3 performances to inspire his hoops-crazy nation.
Without injured star Ricci Rivero, Abarrientos put the cape on to finish with an incredible 18 points. The then 19-year-old saved his best for last with an iconic buzzer beater to break the 19 apiece deadlock.
With his seventh two-piece, Abarrientos inked his name in 3x3 lore and became an instant hero back home.
Micaela Cocks downs rival Australia (2018)
Neighbors Australia and New Zealand have a fierce rivalry across sports and it memorably manifested at the Asia Cup 2018 in the semi-finals.
The teams couldn't be separated after 10 minutes with OT needed to find a winner. Up stepped Micaela Cocks who hit the two-pointer from the left side to trigger scenes of celebration for New Zealand.
She wasn't done with Cocks leading her team past China in the final as New Zealand claimed gold.
Australia's three-peat (2018-19, '22)
The men's team from Down Under have stamped themselves as the region's undisputed best.
They are currently on a 16-game winning streak having claimed a three-peat after titles in 2018, 2019 and 2022.
Australia twice beat Mongolia in finals before taking down rival New Zealand in last year's decider.
They will once again start favorites in Singapore as they look for a fourth straight title.
Indonesia's historic bronze medal (2022)
No one expected Indonesia's women to finish on the podium, but they surprised everyone last year to claim a historic bronze medal.
Their fairy-tale run was mainly due to the insane performance of Kimberley Pierre-Louis, who lived up to her nickname of 'Buckets' with 54 points in 5 games.
It might just have started a 3x3 rise for the hugely populated southeast Asian country.
Japan overcome Mongolia to win bronze (2019)
Japan's women had never medalled in the Asia Cup after agonizingly finishing fourth in 2018.
They were extra determined in 2019 and looked the goods after beating defending champs New Zealand in the quarters.
But Japan's dream run ended against Kazakhstan in the semis meaning their medal hopes rested with a clash against Mongolia.
They were not to be denied with a 21-14 victory to finally win a medal they had long craved.
Japan's star throughout was Minami Iju, who was named in the team of the tournament after pouring in 38 points.
Vosotros takes down Mongolia with buzzer beater (2022)
The Philippines enjoyed their best ever performance at the Asia Cup when their inspired men's team almost reached the podium last year.
The incredible run was highlighted by a major upset of No.1 seed Mongolia in a quarter-final classic.
Trailing 20-18, sharpshooter Almond Vosotros went to the line and made his first free-throw before missing the second. But the Philippines grabbed the rebound and Vosotros decided to go for the W from downtown.
He was all money to trigger scenes of jubilation from the typically loud Filipinos in the crowd.