Mongolia will start their defence of the third International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3x3 Asia Cup men’s title in Shenzen looking to Dulguun Enkhbat to spark another winning campaign.
The 6ft 3in (1.90 metre) 26-year-old won Most Valuable Player last year as he led his team to their first 3x3 title, and first FIBA title, on the home soil of Ulaanbaatar.
He also got special acknowledgement for best hair of the tournament…
The top seed’s opening match tomorrow is due to be against 10th-seeded Chinese Taipei, their opponents in Pool A along with Qatar, seeded seventh in a tournament with added extra significance as the sport prepares to make its debut on the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020.
There are four pools of three teams for both men and women, from which the top two will advance to the quarter-finals on the morning of Tuesday (May 1) with semi-finals and the final also scheduled for that day.
New Zealand, beaten 19-14 by Mongolia in last year’s men’s final, will face one of the teams to emerge from the qualifying draw event in their first match in the state-of-the-art Nanshan Cultural & Sports Centre.
Australia, bronze medallists last year thanks to a 21-18 win over Kazakhstan, are among those teams involved in the qualifying draw this year.
Kazakhstan, meanwhile, will have an opening match against a qualifier on Monday (April 30), as will home team China, who are seeded second.
Ninth-seeded Indonesia, scheduled to face Hong Kong in their opening Pool B match tomorrow, will be energised by the presence of Rivaldo Pangesthio, the 22-year-old who has already represented his country at all levels from the Summer Youth Olympic Games to the FiBA 3x3 World Cup.
Defending champions in the women’s event, Australia – who defeated Malaysia 21-15 in last year’s final – have won both their two opening games in the qualifying draw today, with a 21-11 win over Thailand and a 21-2 win over Sri Lanka.
Top seeds Mongolia beat Hong Kong 18-14 in their opening quaiifying draw match, but then lost 17-16 to Uzbekistan.
China’s women, seeded two, will get their Pool A matches underway tomorrow against ninth-seeded Malaysia before meeting New Zealand.
After the second round of the qualifying draw matches today, South Korea's men, and the men’s and women’s teams from Australia and the Uzbekistan remained unbeaten.