A Romanian gal steers France towards the European title

The FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup has turned The Metropolitan Circus of Bucharest into a spectacular basketball arena for three days.

Ana Maria Filip, a Romanian-born basketball player, who plays for France, was the star of the 2018 FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup which ended on Sunday evening in Bucharest. Ana led France to the European title and was nominated in the All-Tournament Team.

On the men’s side, four-times world champion Serbia broke the curse in the European competition and won its first-ever title in four appearances.

Nearly 2,000 spectators attended Sunday’s finals and over 8,000 people visited The Metropolitan Circus over the three days of competition. Along with Romanian supporters, the fans who followed their national teams created a fiery atmosphere during the matches.

The unique mix of basketball matches, computer and console games, pilot simulators in the fan area, the relaxation areas, street food zone and shopping outlets proved to be appealing for all family members.

Light shows and 3D projections on the court surface have provided a new and all-rounded experience for the players, but especially for the spectators. Karlis Lasmanis, a finalist for Latvia, shared his thoughts on Twitter afterwards: ”Everything was incredible, starting with the players’ presentation to the in-between-matches shows. The most spectacular 3×3 basketball event I ever took part in. Romania, you were amazing”.

As far as the Romanian teams were concerned, the FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup ended in the quarterfinal stage, with a 5th place overall in the women’s Final Standings, plus an 11th place in the men’s Final Standings. On the women’s side, Ancuța Stoenescu, Gabriela Mărginean, Sonia Ursu and Gabriela Irimia lost to Ukraine on Sunday, 18-20, at the end of a match that saw the Romanians lead only twice in the first five minutes and hit a low percentage on two-point throws.

“Sunday’s game was ugly and we have to forget it as soon as possible. We have a lot of work to do. This is where the things get tougher for us. It was a match that we normally should have won. I do not wish to take anything away from the Ukrainian team, but we had a bad game and basically we beat ourselves. Regardless, I think we have formed a good team that gives hope to this sport, yet this is a team that has to work so much from now on” Ancuța Stoenescu concluded.

Italy’s Da Move Crew showed some incredible acrobatic skills in highly entertaining routines, leading towards the tense men’s semifinals: basketball balls span and danced to the beat, while the climax saw an incredible slam-dunk performed over six of the cheerleaders from Dracula’s Girls, who have contributed to the show during the three-days competition. The script of the men’s semifinals, in short: whoever scored first made it to the final. But that’s just a small part of the story.

Medal hunt, fast and furious

The women’s medals were the first to be decided. While Netherlands made an early winning run in front of world-champion Italy, that proved decisive in reaching the final, France had to battle through a close semifinal with Ukraine. Ana Maria Filip and her teammates only managed to put themselves at a safe distance in the last minute of play, ending the game at 17-14.

On the men’s side, Dusan Bulut opened Serbia’s semifinal against Russia with a 2-pointer, and responded fiercely when Russia took the lead, 4-3. The world’s number one scored from every position, propelling Serbia to a 5-points lead. “The Maestro” Majstorovic put the semifinal to rest with 90 seconds to go on the clock, delivering a 2-points throw that brought symmetry to the game, setting a final score of 21-13.

The second semifinal brought the last two European Champions, Latvia and Slovenia, face to face. The Latvians lived dangerously when, with 29 seconds left on the clock, at 18-20, Slovenia had two free throws. At 20-20, Kārlis Lasmanis saved his team, scoring the 21st point with 20 seconds remaining.

For Latvia, the men’s final followed a similar, yet reversed script compared to the semis: Serbia dominated the start, but the 2017 champions made a stunning comeback, levelling the score to 18. The astonishing Serbian gallery watched the last seconds of the final standing, and the boys from Novi Sad prevailed, 19-18, denying Latvia the honour of becoming the first team to defend a 3×3 European title.

In the women’s draw, Ana Maria Filip and Mamignan Toure were unstoppable in Bucharest. With 35 points scored by each in five games, Ana and Mamignan made a big contribution in the final, where France ran away with victory, 21-5 against the Netherlands, setting the record for the most one-sided final in the history of FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup.

Italy secured the third place in the women’s competition, with an extra-time win in front of Ukraine (17-16), while the men’s bronze medal was won by Slovenia, 21-15 in front of Russia.

FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup 2018 was powered by Sport Arena Streetball and the Romanian Basketball Federation, with the support of The Youth and Sports Ministry, Bucharest’s General Mayor and was sponsored by Jacobs, Sport Loft, Gatorade, Ursus Cooler, Regina Maria, APAN Top Selection, Kiss FM, Red Bull, UPC Romania, Kaufland, Horizon, Pegas, PC Coolers, Les Ateliers Nomad, CSM București, The Metropolitan Bucharest Circus and  The Directorate for Sport and Youth of the Municipality of Bucharest. Global Partners: Peak, Tissot and Wilson.

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