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Determined Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy claim FIBA 3x3 Zhijiang Challenger 2024

ZHIJIANG (China) - A motivated Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL) shrugged off recent disappointment to win the FIBA 3x3 Zhijiang Challenger 2024 on May 26.

Here's what happened in the second Challenger of the season.

The winners: Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL)

They were: No.1 most points scored,  best shooting value & fewest points allowed. 

No.3 seed Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL) were out for revenge like John Wick.

Stars Delgernyam Davaasambuu and Dulguun Enkhbat were part of Mongolia's unsuccessful quest for a Paris Olympic ticket, while Steve Sir also endured the heartbreak as coach. 

They needed a boost and received it in Zhijiang with an unbeaten campaign. Things started shakily when they were pushed to the limit by Utsunomiya BREX EXE (JPN) in their opener and Ulaanbaatar also had to battle past Wuxi WenLv (CHN) and the loud Chinese fans in the quarters.

The Mongolians went on a roll from there with decisive victories in the business end against compatriots Zavkhan Sainscore (MGL) and Lausanne (SUI) to clinch a satisfying title. 

Sir was on target as he burned the nets with his hot shooting to submit an MVP performance, but he had plenty of support from his teammates as the Mongolians enjoyed the return of that winning feeling. 

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The runner's-up: Lausanne (SUI)

They were: No.3 fewest points allowed

The new-look Swiss Masters have been busy to start 2024 and the No.2 seed again performed well with a deep run.

After beating Mongolian teams Sansar and Zavkhan Sainscore on Day One, the Swiss withstood a furious rally from a dangerous Dusseldorf LDFY (GER) in a quarter-final epic.

OT was needed and up stepped Malik Hluchoweckyj, who proved he's not just flash but substance too.

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He nailed the two-piece to lift Lausanne into the semis, where they easily handled Utsunomiya BREX EXE before their title hopes ended at the hands of a fired-up Ulaanbaatar. 

But Lausanne are building nicely with American Hluchoweckyj proving a brilliant recruit and he's had instant chemistry with Carlos Martinez, who was unstoppable all tournament to finish as the leading scorer. 

The Final: Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy 22-Lausanne 13

There was much anticipation over these heavyweight teams and Ulaanbaatar made a fast start when Dulguun Enkhbat splashed from deep. 

The fans came to see the fancy footwork of Malik Hluchoweckyj and they weren't disappointed with the American star showing off his sick handles to drive to the rim for consecutive buckets. 

But the Mongolians weren't rattled as they went on a game-winning 9-0 run to take control. Steve Sir went bang, bang as Ulaanbaatar blew out the lead to 13-3 and Lausanne needed to respond quickly. 

The Swiss scored five straight points, but Ulaanbaatar did not panic as Enkhbat scored three quick points to inch the Mongolians closer. 

Hluchoweckyj did not give up, but Sir would not be denied as he ended the game with a trademark two to call game. Sir let out a scream to end the recent pain experienced by the Mongolians. 


The reward: Three tickets to the Edmonton Masters

Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy and Lausanne qualified to the Edmonton Masters on July 6-7.

Final Standings:
1. Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL)
2. Lausanne (SUI)
3. Zavkhan Sainscore (MGL)
4. Utsunomiya BREX EXE (JPN)
5. Raudondvaris Hoptrans (LTU)

Top Scorers:
1. Carlos Martinez (Lausanne, SUI) 38 pts
2. Teodor Atanasov (Utsunomiya BREX EXE, JPN) 35 pts
3. Steve Sir (Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy, MGL) 35 pts
4. Malik Hluchoweckyj (Lausanne, SUI) 31 pts
5. Enkhsaikhan Bayarsaikhan (Zavkhan Sainscore, MGL) 26 pts

Key Stats:
- Teodor Atanasov continued his outstanding form for Utsunomiya BREX EXE with 13 points and 8 rebounds on Day One against Shinagawa CC EXE (JPN). 
-German young gun star Leon Fertig proved why he is so highly rated after a triple-five of 6 points, 8 rebounds and 5 highlights in Dusseldorf LFDY's (GER) pool win against Beijing (CHN). 
- The classic quarter-final between Raudondvaris Hoptrans (LTU) and Utsunomiya BREX EXE lasted 13'17" in playing time to be the longest game of the tournament.