DEBRECEN—Marijus Uzupis scored the Maurice Lacroix Buzzer-Beating two to hand Raudondvaris Hoptrans a 20-21 victory against Tel-Aviv (ISR) in the final of the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Debrecen Masters on August 27.
After having an incredibly tough run of fixtures on the road to the final where they beat the likes of Miami, Paris, and recent Lausanne Masters winners Antwerp TOPdesk, The Aureljus Pukelis-led Raudondvaris picked up their first Masters win of the season.
Tel-Aviv had upset numerous teams on their own path to the final through exceptional shooting from beyond the arc. The lethal scorer Tomer Assayag had been on fire on all offensive fronts. The Lithuanian side seemed to focus their defensive energy on stopping him from gaining momentum.
Joaquin Szuchman was the first to find a bucket as he opened the scoring. The ball quickly made its way to Pukelis who found Uzupis for the bucket. It set the tone for what both teams will be looking for. Assayag found space for a two to hand his team the advantage before Gill Noyovitch drained another two. Soon after it was Szuchman who scored from behind the arc to take their advantage to 4, the highest it would be in this closely fought contest.
Pukelis would go to work in the paint, using his sheer size disparity to his advantage, allowing for easy makes at the rim while also allowing space for his teammates to catch fire from two. His defensive impact was just as ferocious, which Noyovitch felt strongly as his shot was swatted away early in the proceedings
With just over six minutes to go and scores level at 8 apiece, both teams went to their key scorers more regularly. The defenders from Raudondvaris would close in on Assayag which would allow Szuchman to slip in for easy buckets countless times. At the same time, Tel-Aviv just had no answer for Pukelis.
Just under three minutes to go, Assayag had perhaps their best play of the game as he crossed over his defender and found a precise pass to Szuchman for the dunk. The Lithuanian side would keep charging forward though as Pukelis tied things up at 17 apiece seconds after.
Fouls on both teams in short succession sent them to the free throw line, Tel-Aviv taking the lead before Pukelis would put them up by one at 18-19 as he scored his thirteenth point of the game.
Assayag who had barely been allowed to breathe at the two-point line finally found the tiniest amount of space, which was all he needed to drain the shot, bringing them just a point away from winning their first Masters title ever. However, it wasn’t meant to be as Marijus Uzupis caught hold of the ball and while smothered by two defenders, draining the dagger, a Maurice Lacroix Buzzer-Beater two to hand Raudondvaris the victory in an incredibly intense game.
The title would be their first for the season and third all-time for the Lithuanian side.
Pukelis’s impact on both ends of the court, finishing as top scorer with 49 points as well as with the highest Player Value score of 50.1, including 13 points that he scored in the final granted him the distinction of MVP for the event.
In the individual contests, Utsunomiya BREX’s Yosuke Saito took home the Globus Shoot-Out Contest while Kristaps Dargais won the Globus Dunk Contest.