Action is going to be explosive early on in Pool A as the two finalists from last year’s FIBA 3×3 World Cup – Serbia and Netherlands – headline this group.
The defending titlists are early favorites once more due to their familiarity with each other. Serbia’s lineup this year will consist of mainstays Dejan Majstorovic (world #1 player), Marko Savic (#2), and Dusan Bulut (#3), with Stefan Stojajic (#4) replacing the injured Marko Zdero (world #17).
Netherlands, on the other hand, made a couple of changes. Jesper Jobse (#37) will once again lead the way along with 6-foot-6 Sjoerd Van Vilsteren (#49), but Joey Schelvis (#65), who almost shot the team to a comeback win last year, and 7’0” behemoth Bas Rozendaal won’t be returning.
New Zealand and Romania are out to see if they could fare better this year, while first-timers Kyrgyzstan looks to make a good first impression.
After winning three of four World Cup tournaments, this country is looking to complete a three-peat. Long-time stalwarts will headline the team again, but they’ll be missing the services of Zdero for the first time in the 3×3 world stage due to injuries.
With the four best 3×3 players in the world today, one could expect them to breeze through this group.
READ more about Serbia here:
– A quick look at past FIBA 3×3 World Cup champions
– Every continent’s best team in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup
The Netherlands is another team favored to get out of Pool A. Even without Schelvis and Rozendaal, this team is still pretty formidable with Dimeo Van Der Horst (#57) and Aron Roije (203) backstopping Jobse and Van Vilsteren. That should be enough to have them qualify for the Top 16.
They may be trending up in the past years, but getting past the two teams seeded in front of them is a monumental task for Romania. It remains to be seen whether an overhauled squad could gel on the world stage, as only Marius Ciotlaus remained from the roster that competed last year. They also have lower-seeded teams to be wary about; Romania has been upset twice by a relentless Philippine side in 2016 (on a late-three pointer) and in 2017 (15-21).
Ciotlaus will play with Dragos-Alin Andries, George Anton Andrei Diaconescu and Vlad Florin Dumitrescu.
New Zealand (16)
The Kiwis might not make it out of Group A but expect them to make their games close and competitive. Karl Noyer (249) and Aaron Bailey-Nowell will make their return to the Worlds after playing in the 2017 edition (where they placed 15th) and in the recently concluded Asia Cup, where they ended at fourth place.
Joining them will be Sam Timmins and Everard Bartlett.
Expectations are low for the newcomers since they’re grouped with a couple of powerhouses, but this team will be as fun to watch as any other squad in Pool A. Gutsy and pint-sized floor general Shakirzhan Kuranbaev will take the charge along with Evgenii Pekhov. Both suited up in the FIBA Asia Cup 2017, where they finished seventh.
Playing with them are Stanislav Lukonin and Zhanysh Adiev.
(photos and videos from FIBA)