BOCAUE — Take it from the best 3x3 player in the world: the Philippines has the potential to be one of this game’s elites.
“I think they are good 5-on-5 players,” observed Dusan Bulut of Serbia after his side completed a title treble in the 2018 Fiba 3x3 World Cup on Tuesday.
But before the Filipinos can get to that level, Bulut said the locals must first grasp the complexities of the half-court game, which is very much different from the traditional five-a-side version.
“I think they need to learn much more about this game because as you see, Russia came with the 5-on-5 players and they didn't make out the group. Philippines came with the professional 5-on-5 players and they didn't make out of the group,” he said.
Despite the lack of preparation for the global half-court tilt, the team made up of Stanley Pringle, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, and Christian Standhardinger — all of whom came from the PBA — still gave it their all and finished third in Pool C, scoring big wins over world No. 3 Russia and No. 8 Brazil.
Bulut said that what the Philippines needs is a dedicated program for 3x3 basketball, with players who can devote their time playing by the rules and absorbing the intricacies of this new Olympic sport.
Since the country started fielding in teams for the World Cup in 2016, players were always outsourced mere months before the competitions, giving them little time to prepare to face the best 3x3 players in the world.
In 2016, it was a team composed of Mac Belo, Russel Escoto, Glenn Khobuntin, and Karl Dehesa who flew to Guangzhou, China.
Last year, it was Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, JR Quiñahan, and Kobe Paras who competed in Lausanne, France.
Those Philippine teams, including this year’s bunch, all failed to move past the group stages.
Which further emphasizes Bulut’s point.
“You see the first three or four teams here are with players who are professionals in this sport,” he said. “There’s a much, much big difference right now between 3x3 and 5-on-5 players.”