Riga talisman Karlis Lasmanis has set his sights on a second successive Doha Masters title as the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3x3 World Tour season resumes tomorrow.
The Latvian side will arrive in the capital of Qatar looking to repeat their success in 2019 when they defeated world number one Liman 15-14 in the final.
It was Riga’s first World Tour victory and saw Lasmanis named Most Valuable Player after topping the scoring charts with 39 points in five games.
Since winning in Doha, Riga collected titles in Prague and Jeddah in 2019 before clinching the Hungary Masters crown in September.
"We won a few more times because of that win [in Doha]," said Lasmanis.
"We had the [winning] mentality.
"It helped us a lot.
"We’re now focused on trying to win back-to-back titles.
"I think it’s going to be tough, but we are ready for everyone."
Second seeds Riga will be the team to beat in Pool B as they face Jeddah and Yoyogi Crayon.EXE.
Novi Sad are notable absentees from the event, but Liman, NY Harlem and Princeton are among the main challengers to Riga.
Nine of the world’s top 18 players are also expected to be in action in Doha.
It will be the first event since the Europe Masters in Hungary in September and Lasmanis admits he is still adapting to the training conditions dictated by the coronavirus pandemic.
"It’s harder to prepare for the competition because you don’t have sparring partners," said Lasmanis.
"All you can practise with is your teammates.
"But our coach is getting us ready and we will be prepared.
"We keep working on our weaknesses.
"We haven’t changed the way we practise in the last year and it doesn’t matter if Novi Sad will be there or not, there are going to be a lot of good teams."
The event will be key to determining who will play at the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Jeddah Final, scheduled to be held from December 19 to 20.
Liman, Riga, Novi Sad, NY Harlem, Piran, Sakiai Gulbele, Lausanne Katapult, Ub, Utena Uniclub and Jeddah have booked their places in Saudi Arabia, leaving just two spaces left to fill.
With Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy and Amsterdam - ranked 11th and 12 respectively - not in action, Princeton, Manila Chooks TM, Kamakura NatureMade, Riyadh, Bielefeld LFDY, Lusail and Yoyogi Crayon.EXE all have a chance to qualify for next month’s showpiece.
The Doha Masters is poised to begin tomorrow and end on Saturday (November 21).