ABU DHABI // On Friday, Al Wahda's 3x3 basketball team secured a spot at the Fiba Masters finals at Beijing in August, winning the qualifying event in Abu Dhabi.
Next weekend, in the second leg of the Abu Dhabi 3x3 Tour at Yas Mall, they have a chance to book a spot in the Asian Masters at Manila.
It is the kind of success the club’s directors expected when they hand picked the all-Serb squad, who were placed one to four in Fiba’s rankings but playing for different teams.
Marko Zdero, Marko Savic, Dejan Majstorovic and Dusan Donovic have turned Wahda into the world’s best side.
“We signed them with the objective of winning every competition on the Fiba World 3X3 Tour and, by achieving those objectives, promoting Al Wahda as well as Abu Dhabi,” said Khalid Al Hanaei, chairman of Wahda’s board of directors.
“They are the top ranking players from one to four and it wasn’t easy to assemble.
“We intend to play them in every world tour competition and fulfil our objectives, hopefully.”
Wahda will play at Beijing on August 15 and 16, and victory this weekend at Yas Mall will also see them through to the Philippines capital, Manila, in the Asian finals on August 1 and 2.
The Abu Dhabi finals, which took place in the Breakwater car park adjoining the Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club, had the country’s best 48 men’s teams vying for the top spot.
Wahda outclassed The One Syria team 21-12 in the final to take the cheque for Dh10,000.
“We have been playing together as a team for more than a year and are now looking forward to playing under the banner of Al Wahda,” said Zdero, the winner of the MVP award.
The One Syria team, comprised former Syria internationals Issam Termanini and Mohiyedine Kafaballi, and Senegalese Mamadou Ndiaye, did well to reach the final with some solid performances.
“We came up against the best team, perhaps in the world, but we are happy to reach the final,” Termanini said.
One Syria won a semi-final thriller over Al Ain 16-15 thanks to Kafaballi, who scored three straight baskets to see his side rally from eight points behind in the last two minutes of the match.
Wahda got the better of Doha Juniors from Qatar 22-12 in the second semi-final.
The Dragons – made up of American Marian Brooks, Romanians Julia Cristina and Laura Renderesi, and Rivera Vio of the Philippines – bagged the women’s title.
“It was the Dragons’ third time in the Abu Dhabi 3X3 Tour, finishing runner-up in the first and then winning the next two,” Brooks said.
“It was great fun, and we are looking forward to participating in the future tour events.”
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