China storms to two 3x3 World University League titles
Tsinghua University takes the women’s title, while Huaqiao University emerges victorious in the men’s competition on their home court.
XIAMEN — With championships in the balance, Chinese student-athletes relied on sharpshooting from beyond the arc as they turned nail-biters into titles at the 3x3 FISU World University League - 2018 Finals.
The event is the culmination of five continental tournaments that saw 16 men’s and women’s teams qualify for the Finals in Xiamen. The event is in its fourth edition, one that pits the world’s best university teams against each other on the world stage.
In the women’s competition, Tsinghua University’s Luchenhong Yangsealed the win for her Beijing-based team as she hit a dagger from the top of the key before blocking the shot on Viktoriia Kondus of Vasyl Stefanyk University, Ukraine.
Just before the final buzzer, Yang and Kondus, the world’s No. 13 ranked 3x3 player, shook hands at centre court. The score favoured Tsinghau University, 17-14.
The acknowledgement made for a fitting tribute as Yang scored 11 points on 11 shots, while recording four rebounds and a steal. The Ukrainian Kondus was just as effective and nearly as proficient, pouring in 11 points on 12 shots. In 3x3, points inside the arc are worth one point while those beyond score two.
“We had the belief that we would win,” Yang, a 22-year old economic major said after the game.
A chanting Huaqiao University student section were a steady presence on the campus basketball courts all week. During each of Huaqiao University’s seven wins the partisan crowd threw a raucous reception for their hometown quartet.
Huaqiao University didn’t disappoint in the men’s final as they delivered their most complete performance of the tournament. After falling behind early to the Montreal-based McGill University, the home team slowed down their Canadian rivals with stout defense. They then sealed it with three consecutive shots from deep in putting the game away, 21-15.
A household name since starring in the hit Chinese reality television series Dunk of China, Xiang Meng hit the defining shot of the men’s tournament. He then injured his hand, only to return into the game on the next possession and immediately thereafter connecting on a two-pointer for a four-point lead. Teammate Yi Zheng followed up on the next opportunity with another two-pointer to put the game away, 21-15.
“It was such a close team game, I had to make it back onto the court,” Xiang Meng said. “I didn’t know if I could shoot, but when I heard that crowd behind me I couldn’t feel any pain and the shot dropped. Our classmates helped us become victorious.”
Teammate Yi Zheng added: “I had total confidence I’d make that last shot, but it’s beyond words to explain what it means to actually do it.”
Vytautus Magnus University of Lithuania won the men’s bronze medal game over New Zealand’s University of Auckland, 21-16. “We were a little frustrated and kind of lost our composure in the semis,” Ernastas Sederevicius of Vytautus Magnus said. “But we rallied to win the bronze.”
In the women’s bronze medal game, defending champions Chinese Culture University overcame University of Ljubljana, 17-15. "We needed to shoot a little better today to play in the final,” Chinese Culture University’s You Chen Huang said.
Shrugging off a translator she added, “And get stronger’ while laughing and flexing her biceps.
All in all, it was a fantastic four days for the teams from China as they picked up both, the men’s and women’s titles. The fourth edition of the 3x3 FISU World University League brought the world’s best student ballers to the fore and the spotlight shined bright on some future stars of the game. The entire tournament can be viewed on FISUTV.