MANDAUE – One of those being hoped for to happen in the Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3×3 World Tour Cebu Masters is a rematch of sorts between two sides that vied for halfcourt basketball’s biggest prize about five months ago.
Miami and the vaunted Ub Huishan NE are in town for the September 23-24 festivities taking place in Cebu City, and it would be like the FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2023 Final all over again should they cross paths once more.
Both teams are being represented by players that form the United States and Serbia national teams, and a rivalry is brewing stemming from what happened during that afternoon of July 2 in Vienna, Austria.
For starters, USA was just a two-pointer away from becoming just the second team to beat the European side for the men’s 3×3 title, but Jimmer Fredette’s potential game-winner with 3:36 left to play rolled in and out of the rim.
The Serbians eventually completed the come-from-behind victory, 21-19, and annexed their sixth gold in the last eight editions of the World Cup.
“Obviously, we lost a heartbreaker of a game to Serbia in the World Cup Final,” recalled Canyon Barry during the Cebu Masters’ pre-event press conference at the World Tour leg’s battlegrounds in SM Seaside City, Thursday.
“Jimmer’s shot was three quarters of laying in the basket and just had not enough lucky bounce,” added the son of legend Rick Barry, who was part of the US team that won gold in the 2019 3×3 World Cup.
Barry and his USA Basketball 3×3 teammates, though, have gained a sense of vengeance against Serbia in the FIBA 3×3 Pro Circuit.
Miami and Ub had actually faced one another twice, and won both meetings. The former first beat the latter in the Bordeaux Challenger semifinals (21-19) last July, and then in the Lausanne Masters quarters (21-17) the following month.
“We’ve had some success against them recently,” said Barry. “But every time you play them, you know you’re gonna have a tough battle.”
It may need a little bit of both luck and fate for Miami and Ub to happen, though. The American team are situated in Pool D, while the other is in Pool A.
As exciting as that potential matchup is, Barry and Co. are looking at a much bigger picture. They’re out to win their first Masters this season.
Unlike Ub who’s already won six World Tour legs this season, Miami is coming in with the motivation to break through after back-to-back semis appearances in Lausanne and Debrecen, placing third and fourth, respectively.
“Like these guys have said, anyone can win any game,” said Barry, who graced the presser along with teammates Fredette, Kareem Maddox, and Dylan Travis.
“Obviously we’d like to beat any team that we’re playing but the World Cup did hurt a little bit, so hopefully we can continue succeeding and try to win our first Masters this year,” he furthered.
Maddox, for his part, emphasized how much he and Miami want to win, but also knows that doing so would be easier said than done.
He even used their 5-on-5 counterparts’ fourth-place finish in the recent FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 to prove his point that winning in the international stage is becoming more and more difficult over the years.
“Our plan every time we take the court is to win the gold,” he said. “We’re prepared to do that. We’ve been getting better as the seasons progressed. We started out the year with the World Cup and won a silver medal.
“We saw the 5-on-5 guys recently here in the Philippines, and finished fourth place I believe,” he added.
“And I think that’s just a testament to how sprung international basketball is becoming… There are no easy games.”