Ahead of the upcoming Doha Masters, let’s take a look back at the top 10 moments in this dazzling desert locale and also from Qatari players.
Team Doha made their mark on the FIBA 3×3 World Tour in style with a triumph that is still fondly remembered five years later. In a thrilling final in Beijing, Doha edged the experienced Ljubljana 22-20 in overtime punctuated by diminutive Dominic James’ spectacular game-winning 2-pointer off the glass.
It followed Doha’s memorable upset over 3×3 powerhouse Novi Sad in the semis in a game made notable for Sammy Monroe’s acrobatic game winner.
The Qataris emerged as the crowd favourite by thrilling locals with their spectacular plays above the rim and high energy. There might have never been such a popular champion than Team Doha at the Beijing Masters.
Qatar wins the FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2014
This was a historic moment for tiny Qatar, which in 2014 had a population of less than 2.5 million. Up to that point, Qatar had never won an international team sports tournament but their 3×3 men’s team spectacularly broke the drought with a triumph in Moscow at the World Cup.
A title seemed unlikely after Qatar only just survived the group stage but found their best when it mattered most. They edged a powerful Lithuania in the semis to set up a daunting decider against mighty Serbia.
Qatar did what few teams have been able to against the scintillating Serbs lock them up with stifling defense. The usually free-flowing Serbia scored a tournament low 13 points as Erfan Ali Saeed dominated down low and Boney Watson produced the type of menacing moves usually reserved for Serbian star Dusan Bulut.
Team Kaunas U18 defeats Saskatoon (All Stars 2014)
These teenagers were not meant to spoil the party at the FIBA 3×3 All Stars in Doha the highly prestigious tournament bringing together all the number ones in the 3×3 Individual World Rankings worldwide.
In-form Team Kaunas U18 featured four players aged 18 who all won gold in 3×3 at the 2014 Youth Olympics representing Lithuania. Despite this impressive achievement, they were not expected to upstage the cream of 3×3’s crop but the Lithuanians stunned the field to finish third.
Their best result was when they stunned World Tour runners-ups Saskatoon 17-14. Led by the No.1 U18 player at the time Martynas Sajus, the underdogs kept it close throughout but Saskatoon’s experience appeared likely to prevail as the game went down to the wire.
But it was the newbies who showed the greater poise as they scored the last four points punctuated by an emphatic dunk from Sajus to clinch a memorable victory for the ages.
Novi Sad’s winning streak ends (Doha Masters 2019)
Novi Sad finished 2018 with a perfect 32-0 record on the World Tour but 2019 was instantly different with the Serbs falling to compatriots Liman at the Doha Masters.
In the Serbian Showdown in the desert, Liman were big underdogs without ace Stefan Stojacic but their tough defense limited Novi Sad who somehow went cold in the oppressive conditions.
A layup from Aleksandar Ratkov with 18 seconds left sealed Liman’s sweet 20-17 victory and ended Novi Sad’s streak at 35.
But that’s a record that might never be toppled.
Riga win first ever Masters (Doha Masters 2019)
Riga made a statement in 2018 with three second placed finishes but agonizingly couldn’t breakthrough for the ultimate. They stewed all off-season and arrived in Doha for 2019’s first Masters determined like Bruce Wayne climbing out of the pit.
Riga made it through to another final and a matchup with Liman. Sick of being second, the Latvians were led by Karlis Lasmanis who dominated the decider with 8 points to trigger memorable celebrations at the buzzer.
Filipino teams stun 3×3 powerhouses (2019 Doha Masters)
There might not have been a better opening to a World Tour season than last year in Doha when Filipino teams Pasig Chooks and Balanga Chooks stole the show.
On day 1, No.8 seed Pasig Chooks were the major underdogs against world No.1 Liman and in a game with more twists than Inception, Taylor Statham had ice in his veins to start the biggest Filipino party since Manny Pacquaio was doing his thing.
Not to be outdone by their rivals, Balanga Chooks also made the pro-Filipino crowd hyped with a stunning upset over eventual champion Riga with Travis Franklin in beast mode on both ends.
But it didn’t end there with Balanga defeating Moscow Inanomo after an incredible ending in overtime where Alvin Pasaol called game as Doha turned into downtown Manila for the night.
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