Sky's the limit in Mongolia, the Land of the Eternal Blue Sky
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - The fact that Mongolian basketball is on the rise isn’t a secret. Anyone who has been even remotely paying attention will have noticed by now, but in any case, it’s becoming clearer and clearer.
Mongolian basketball was directly in the spotlight once again over the weekend as the men’s 3x3 team played in a battle for the ages at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023 in Singapore and won the title for the second time in the history of the competition.
The FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup men’s title is obviously a highly coveted achievement for the national team program, but it’s only one of the many success stories for Mongolia in just this past year alone - further emphasizing that the sky really is the limit for the “Land of the eternal blue sky”.
FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup glory
There’s no doubt that any time that you win a competition while representing your nation is awesome, so Mongolia winning FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2023 is special but there’s a bit more to it. Not only was it the first time since 2017 that Mongolia had won the competition, but it was also the first time since 2017 that Mongolia had beaten Australia in the 3x3 Asia Cup, too.
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To add more context about how much this meant for Mongolia, they had lost in the Finals of both the 2018 and 2019 editions of the event to Australia. This was revenge that the team had been craving after so many years.
FIBA Asia Cup 2025 qualification next?
Success in the 3x3 scene is not something new for Mongolia basketball, however. As mentioned, it was already their second 3x3 Asia Cup title and their fourth time playing in the Grand Final.
What was new this past year for Mongolian basketball was the participation in the traditional full-court competition. The team’s participation in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Pre-Qualifiers last November was the senior men’s national team’s first appearance in a FIBA Asia competition ever.
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Additionally, it was more than just being a part of the competition for Mongolia. They also succeeded to qualify for the Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers, where they will now get the chance to go up against another tier of competition that have played in the Asia Cup - or even the World Cup.
Another milestone for Mongolia basketball at the Asia Cup Pre-Qualifiers aside from reaching their goal of advancing was the fact that both the November and February windows were hosted in Ulaanbaatar.
The fans put on display how hungry they were for basketball and the players - from all teams - fed off that energy to give them a show. This is a more than positive sign moving forward for the Asia Cup Qualifiers in which the games will be played in a home-and-away format.
Girls got game
It’s not only the men’s teams that have been soaking in the spotlight. The women are on the rise as well, highlighted by the performance of their U18 women’s national team.
In the U18 women’s Asian Championship 2022 Division B in Bengaluru, Mongolia made a memorable run all the way through to the Final before losing in a close game to Malaysia. Even if they were not able to claim the title and hoist the trophy at the end, the fact that Mongolia had made it all the way to the championship game in their first-ever run in the competition spells how much potential these young women have.
Another success story for Mongolia basketball has been the journey of Mike Sharavjamts.
The 20-year-old is one of the best players to ever come from Mongolia, a statement that is supported by the fact that he is the first player ever from Mongolia to play in NCAA Division 1. He also had a relatively successful freshman year averaging 5.6 points and 2.6 assists per game for the Dayton Flyers, which was good enough for him to be named to the Atlantic 10 Conference All-Rookie team after starting 20 of his 30 games played.
Sharavjamts recently announced that he would no longer be with Dayton for the upcoming season and will enter his name in the NBA Draft this year, but he will still have his options open in the NCAA transfer portal as well. Whatever the case, it will be an exciting next chapter for Mongolian promising prospect and for Mongolia basketball as a whole.
“To the entire nation of Mongolia, I appreciate all the love and support. Hopefully, I have made you proud and will always represent Mongolia at the highest level,” Sharavjamts wrote in his Instagram post.