After one of the most spectacular games of the season, Riga won for the second time in a row Raiffeisen Bank Bucharest Challenger, edging in the final Novi Sad Al Wahda by just one point, 21-20. The tournament took place in ParkLake Shopping Center, the exquisite mall from District 3 of the Romanian capital city.
Nauris Miezis scored the final basket of a game filled with spectacular passes, a rain of two point field goals and some amazing display of skills, hard work and determination from both teams.
It was 3×3 basketball at his best between two of the best teams in the world right now, proving once again that this discipline deserves its place among the Olympic discipline.
The game was a rollercoaster, with Riga in the driving seat for most of the time. The Latvians had a flying start and led 7-2 after just 90 seconds. Novi Sad climbed back to just one possession 10-8 for Riga with 7 minutes to go.
Lasmanis and Miezis were on fire and Riga was leading 14-8 at the half of the game. But then Dusan Bulut happened. He scored five points in a row, Tamas Ivosev add another three and suddenly Novi Sad was leading 16-15.
The final minutes were truly crazy, with both teams going at each other, trading baskets and playing with the hearts of an amazing crowd. In the end Miezis squeezed the ball into the basket for one last time and Riga got the big credit card with 10.000 USD offered by Raiffeisen Bank and Mastercard.
In the semifinals Novi Sad beat Belgrade 21-17, while Riga overpowered Zemun, 21-13.
Thomas Davis from Gdansk Energa 3×3 was the top scorer of the tournament with 42 points in five games, followed by Karlis Lasmanis (Riga) with 41 points and Ivan Popovic (Belgrade) with 39 points. The Top 5 scorers also included Nauris Miezis (Riga) and Tamas Ivosev (Novi Sad Al Wahda), each with 37 points.
For the first time ever, Sport Arena Streetball, the Romanian 3×3 promoter, organized also a women pro tournament during the Bucharest Challenger. Paris Squad won the tournament and the 3500 USD money prize after beating in the final the home crowd favorites Stiinta Bucharest.
Unfortunately for the Romanian team, one of their best players, Anca Stoenescu got injured in the semifinals and couldn’t help her teammates in the last game. Stoenescu, 37, is the record holder for most national titles in Romania, with 12 and she has rejuvenated her career in 3×3 basketball. She had one of the highlights of the tournament, with the beautiful fake pass and the layup.
Former WNBA player Gabriela Marginean from Stiina Bucharest was the top scorer of the tournament with 38 points in five games, followed Mamignan Toure (Paris Squad) with 32. Dora Medgyessy and Olympic silver medalist Emilie Gomis, each with 28 points together with Marie-Eve Paget with 25, completed the Top 5 scorers in the women tournament.
After playing for three days in the side event organized together with the challenger, the kids got the chance to share the same stage with their idols during the award ceremony, receiving their prizes from the hands of the best players in the world.