CALVIN Abueva’s first international stint ended in a whimper after undermanned Manila North fell against hot-shooting Doha, 21-7 in the knockout quarterfinals of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Manila Masters Sunday at the Mega Fashion Hall in SM Megamall.
Abueva and Co. were expecting a physical, grind-it-out match against Doha, which boasts of 6-foot-8 Mohd Yousuf Mohammed and 6-foot-7 Yaseem Musa.
Instead, Doha came out firing from all cylinders, with Mohammed, a noted enforcer, draining four straight long bombs in a merciless 16-0 blast on the way to clinching the victory.
The win vaulted Doha to the semifinals, while sending the second of four Manila teams competing here out of title contention.
Manila East, comprised of Ateneo’s team B, earlier bowed out of contention after falling to Jakarta, 14-11.
Manila West meanwhile, moved to the semifinals after nosing out the tall Auckland squad, 14-9 behind Terrence Romeo’s endgame heroics.
“Siguro nung time na nakalaban namin sila, eh ngayon swerte talaga eh, pumapasok ang mga tira nila, kaya natambakan nila kami,” rued Abueva, who was earlier dropped on the floor after being accidentally hit by Mohammed with an elbow during a rebounding scramble.
The flamboyant Alaska forward said he, along with teammates Vic Manuel and Jake Pascual, were caught by surprise with Doha’s change of strategy, relying more on its perimeter shooting, compared to its post-up game during Day One on Saturday.
“Nabigla nga kami eh. Kasi akala namin, panay lang sila sa loob, kaya pinapatira namin sila ng pinapatira,” said Abueva.
“Kahapon, di ko naman nakitang tumitira sa labas `yung malaki (Mohammed). Kasi kahapon puro sabaly ang mga tira niya eh. Pero grabe, kaya natambakan kami ngayon,” he added.
Manila North, a pre-tournament favorite, missed the services of Ian Sangalang, who could only watch on the sidelines due to a sprained ankle he sustained on Saturday.
Sangalang said the pain of seeing his teammates go down in defeat was not something he expected, considering the preparation they had a week ago for the tournament.
“Pinapanood ko lang ang mga kakampi ko. Although gusto ko naman tumulong pero di ko kaya. Wala naman akong magagawa eh kasi di naman natin maiwasan ang injury,” said Sangalang, whose reunion with Abueva, his college teammate at San Sebastian, was cut short with his injury.