|The reigning 3x3 World Champions|
The pools for the 2014 FIBA 3x3 World Championships - taking place 5-8 June in Moscow, Russia - were unveiled on Wednesday and the reigning champs are looking at a difficult road to a repeat.
While Serbia's men will meet neighbours and rivals Croatia and Slovenia, USA's women will play in a highly competitive pool spearheaded by a strong Russian team with homecourt advantage.
This will mark the second edition of the FIBA 3x3 World Championships after a successful inaugural event held in Athens, Greece in 2012.
The 48 teams (24 in the men and 24 in the women's tournament) from 35 countries will come head to head in the luxurious Luzhniki Park, with the colossal Luzhniki Stadium serving as a unique backdrop. They were divided into four pools of six teams (for both categories) for the pool stage, played in a standard round-robin format. The four best qualify for the knock-out stage starting at the last 16 phase.
Two years ago in the streets of Athens, Serbia's men became the first-ever FIBA 3x3 World Champion and the same nucleus of Dusan Domovic Bulut, Marko Savic and Marko Zdero is back to defend its crown. In Pool D they will meet familiar faces as Slovenia will be represented by the four players who, under the name Team Brezovica, beat Bulut's Novi Sad squad in the final of both city-based 3x3 events, the FIBA 3x3 World Tour and the FIBA 3x3 All Stars in 2013.
Despite being the reigning champs, Serbia is not the #1 seed in Moscow as the seeding is entirely based on the 3x3 Federation Ranking. This ranking takes into account the number of points collected by players in the last 12 months. National Federations are ranked according to the aggregate points tallied by their Top 100 nationals (with a confirmed 3x3planet.com account) in the 3x3 Individual World Ranking.
The 3x3 Federation Ranking not only rewards the elite performances of the players but also the 3x3 activity in the territory of each national federation. The more events are organised the more likely players will earn points and increase the national federation's standing in the 3x3 Federation Ranking.
Poland topped the men's ranking, while Romania led the women's.
Team USA will try to keep its hegemony on 3x3 women's basketball after winning the first FIBA 3x3 World Championships in 2012 and the last two editions of the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships, in 2012 and 2013. Things won't be easy for them in Pool D as they will not only face the Russian hosts but also the traditional women's basketball powerhouses of Brazil, Germany and Italy.
On top of an exciting tournament, fans and players will also be able to experience the skills challenge, the free-throw pursuit, the Samsung Shoot-out and the Dunk contest. DJs, MCs and breakdancers will add to the urban festival atmosphere that has become synonymous with 3x3.
Pool A: Poland; Germany; USA; Czech Republic; Netherlands; Tunisia
Pool B: Romania; Lithuania; Russia; Venezuela; Argentina; Qatar
Pool C: Brazil; Turkey; Estonia; Uruguay; New Zealand; Puerto Rico
Pool D: Slovenia; Serbia; Japan; Croatia; Indonesia; China
Pool A: Romania; Switzerland; Uruguay; Belgium; Indonesia; Ukraine
Pool B: Andorra; France; China; Uganda; Thailand; Syria
Pool C: Czech Republic; Spain; Netherlands; Estonia; Argentina; Tunisia
Pool D: Brazil; Germany; USA; Hungary; Italy; Russia
Go to russia2014.fiba.com for all the latest on the FIBA 3x3 World Championships.