Serbia’s Partizan held off a determined charge by Belgian side Antwerp Topdesk to clinch their first-ever World Tour Masters title with a heart-stopping 16-15 win in the final of the 2023 FIBA 3x3 World Tour Manama Masters in front of a capacity crowd in a specially-constructed court at Bahrain Financial Harbour last night.
What made Partizan’s title win even more remarkable was the fact that they had to enter the group phase through the qualifying draw yesterday.
Yet they showed no signs of nerves as the 10-minute final began, racing to a 4-2 lead in the third minute before Antwerp drew level at 7-7 after five minutes.
Two minutes later, there was still nothing to separate the two teams with the scoreboard reading 10-10 – and 11-11 a minute later.
But, as the game entered its ninth minute, Partizan had edged ahead, at 13-12, and, with 90 seconds remaining, they led by two points, at 14-12.
Antwerp, somehow, clawed their way back to level the score again at 14-14, with 45 seconds left.
But Partizan surged to a two-point lead again, at 16-14, with slightly more than 30 seconds left only to see Antwerp come within one point, at 16-15, with 20 seconds left.
Partizan were under pressure but the Belgian side failed to capitalise on a few good chances to score and, when the buzzer sounded to signal the Serbian team’s win, the Partizan players first looked around in disbelief before erupting in wild celebrations.
Earlier, Antwerp had made short work of Lithuanian team Marijampole Mantinga in their semi-final as the Belgian side cantered to a 21-10 win while Partizan were made to struggle for their 21-19 semi-final victory over Chinese side Hangzhou.
Before that, Thibaut Vervoort, of Chinese team Futian, won the shootout contest while Tony Crosby II won the dunk competition.
Meanwhile, Al Najma beat Al Ittehad 21-10 in the final of the local team’s men’s competition while Qatar’s Doha Expo beat Manama 21-9 in the women’s final with both games taking place before darkness fell.