In what felt like a blink of an eye, Jasmin Hercegovac splashed back-to-back shots from beyond the arc to return Ljubljana to the top of the FIBA 3×3 world on Friday night.
The sharpshooter scored 11 points to lead the Slovenians past Hamamatsu of Japan 21-12 in the title game of the World Tour Final at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.
After falling short the past two years, Ljubljana finally tasted glory again following their first crown in Istanbul, Turkey in 2013.
“To be honest, I’m probably going to feel it in a few days what we achieved. Right now, my pulse is higher than usual and it feels great,” Hercegovac, the No5 ranked 3×3 player in the world, told Sport360.
“It took so long (to win the title again). Maybe we even doubted ourselves if we could do it again, but this year we showed amazing performances and we are very happy about it.”
Hercegovac finished with 50 points in five games – all wins – in the capital, but his final four points will be the lasting memory as he ended the championship with rapid-fire long-range bombs to display both his shooting ability and feel for the moment.
“No hesitation at all,” he said. “There’s only 12 seconds [on the shot clock] here. If you have an open window to shoot, I’m going to use it because there are more chances the result is not going to be that good of an opportunity in the next eight seconds. If you feel it, you have to shoot it.”
At the age of 39 and with two World Tour titles under his belt, Hercegovac is dreaming even bigger for his next goal. Not only does he hope 3×3 basketball makes its debut at the 2020 Olympics, but he wants to go out on top with Slovenia at the top of the podium.
“Honestly, our biggest dream or wish it to have a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. I would like to finish my career like that,” he said.
Hamamatsu, meanwhile, had to settle for second place in Abu Dhabi, but they knocked off the favourites and two-time reigning champions, Novi Sad Al Wahda in the semi-finals.
Vadim ‘Miller’ Poddubchenko and Marcin Chudy won the event’s slam dunk contest and shootout, respectively.
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