Vengeance for the Manila North team was not to be served in scorching Abu Dhabi.
Calvin Abueva and the Manila North team saw their dreams of a payback decisively crushed in the quarterfinals at midnight Friday (Manila time) as defending champion Novi Sad Al Wahda ousted the Filipino crew, 21-13, on the way to retaining the FIBA 3×3 World Tour title in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Armed with the world’s No. 1 player Dusan Domovic Bulut, Novi Sad, playing under the UAE banner, edged in overtime Trbovlje of Slovenia, 16-14, in the semis before beating Kranj, also from Slovenia, 17-14, in the final.
Manila North wound up at 6th place behind Novi Sad, Kranj, NY Harlem, Trbovlje, and Ljubljana, also of Slovenia. The finish was one rung below the position of Manila West, made up of Terrence Romeo, KG Canaleta, Rey Guevarra and Aldrech Ramos, in the Sendai, Japan FIBA 3×3 World Tour last year.
Abueva and his teammates went down kicking and clawing.
Fighting back from 4-1 and 8-5 deficits, Manila North leveled at 9-all after Abueva dunked to bring the house down.
But Novi Sad, a veteran international competitor, wasn’t to be denied.
Back-to-back 2-pointers gave the home team a 13-9 lead which it never relinquished. And at 19-13, the defending champs hit two free throws to end the highly-physical game with still more than two minutes remaining.
Novi Sad Al Wahda took home the US $30,000 winning prize and an automatic berth for the FIBA 3×3 All Stars while Kranj won US $20,000. Third-place NY Harlem (USA) earned US $16,000. Trbovlje got $12,000 after finishing fourth. Ljubljana (SLO) were rewarded with US $10,000 for their fifth place and Manila North (PHI) were the sixth and last team to earn prize money (US $8,000) at the event.
Abueva and his teammates are expected back in Manila Sunday in time for the inaugural ceremony of the the 41st PBA season at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Bulut lived up to his billing, leading all scorers with 42 points and winning MVP honors.
He had a game-high 8 points in the championship game, which his team dominated from the early start. It was the third straight year that Novi Sad Al Wahda beat Kranj at some stage of the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Final. The sharpshooting Dejan Majstorovic contributed 6 points in the game. In the losing effort, speedy playmaker Boris Jersin netted 7 points and the all-around Mensud Julevic added 5.
Kranj qualified for the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Final by winning the Prague Masters while Novi Sad Al Wahda had won two Masters in the same year in Manila and Rio de Janeiro. The fourth edition of the FIBA 3×3 World Tour featured six Masters, starting on 1-2 August in Manila and also stopping in Prague, Beijing, Lausanne, Mexico DF and Rio de Janeiro. The Final saw the top two teams of all six Masters (12 total teams).
Another reigning champ kept his crown in Abu Dhabi. Polish professional dunker Rafal ‘Lipek’ Lipinski (Poland) made history by winning the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Mercedes-Benz dunk title for the fourth straight year. He edged out social media superstar Jordan ‘Mission Impossible’ Kilganon (Canada) in the final. Derek Griffin (Denver) – a member of the exclusive group of 12 players who played in all four editions of the FIBA 3×3 World Tour – won the Abu Dhabi Sports Council Shoot-Out Contest.
Final Standings of the 2015 FIBA 3×3 World Tour Final:
1. Novi Sad Al Wahda (UAE)
2. Kranj (SLO)
3. NY Harlem (USA)
4. Trbovlje (SLO)
5. Ljubljana (SLO)
6. Manila North (PHI)
7. Rio (BRA)
8. Denver (USA)
9. Doha (QAT)
10. Kolobrzeg (POL)
11. Vilnius (LTU)
12. Santos (BRA)