AFTER topping the inaugural Fiba-Asia 3x3 U18 Championship, the Energen-Philippine youth team is still setting a modest goal in its coming campaign in the Fiba 3x3 U18 World Championship this September.
Coach John Flores said the quartet of Arvin Tolentino, Prince Rivero, Kobe Paras, and Thirdy Ravena will try to enjoy their stint in the September 26 to 29 meet - the same attitude they had during last week’s FIBA-Asia joust in Bangkok, Thailand which they won after beating India in the Finals, 21-19.
By topping the event, the young Filipinos earned a berth in the Fiba-World 3x3 tournament slated in Jakarta.
“Our expectations for the Fiba-World will just be the same as what we had nung huli. Wala rin naman kaming pinag-usapan noong pumunta kami ng Bangkok,” said Flores, who accompanied the gold medal winners in Tuesday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
A total of 48 teams – 24 each in both men and women’s side – from Europe, South America, North America, and other Fiba zones will be competing in the World 3x3.
The bracketing of teams won’t be known until a month before the tournament.
“I think this is a good opportunity not only for the boys but for the entire country. It’s not often that we get into a world championship,” said Flores in the session presented by Shakey’s and the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation.
“It’s only 3x3, but a gold is still a gold.”
The Filipinos initially lost their opening game in Group B against Qatar, 14-17, but racked up six straight wins from there on the way to the championship.
The streak included stunning victories over Japan in the quarterfinals (21-18) and against mighty China in the semifinals that went into overtime, 22-18.
“Masarap ang feeling na makapag-bigay karangalan sa bansa. We just didn’t play for ourselves but for the country,” said Tolentino, a star player of San Beda Red Cubs.
“It’s a great feeling, hindi namin expect na aabot kami sa Finals lalo na we have China as opponent sa semis,” said Paras, the youngest of two playing sons of cage great Benjie Paras, who was also at the session along with former basketball star Bong Ravena, father of Thirdy.
But Flores said the turning point of Energen-Philippine team’s campaign came right on its first game.
“Yung talo namin sa Qatar served as wake-up call. Everything changed after that.”