Standing tall among giants, Italy's Rae Lin D'Alie endears self to Filipino fans
Rae Lin D'Alie and the Italian squad brace for a tough second phase of the tournament. Jerome Ascano

BOCAUE — At 5 feet 4 inches Italy’s Rae Lin D’Alie is a tad shorter than the Philippine team’s Janine Pantejos, and with her sick handles she has earned cheers from the local crowd that simply loves to root for the underdog.

The former Wisconsin Badgers star guard has captivated the audience with her impeccable court vision, and like Pontejos has become one of the fan favorites in the 2018 Fiba 3x3 World Cup.

The crowd showers her with cheers, voicing their excitement whenever D’Alie had the leather.

The former Big Ten star truly appreciates the love.

“I can’t say enough about the Philippines’ culture. You guys are great and you can tell there’s a great appreciation of basketball in this country. You can tell it just by the people coming out. This place is rocking,” she said.

At 30, D’Alie continues to prove that in this sport, height doesn’t necessarily mean might.

“I think the lot of oohs and aahs is because we’re playing good basketball, but also it’s because inside the Filipinos’ hearts, there’s a basketball,” she said.

But more than D’Alie’s flash and flair are results, with Italy winning its games Malaysia, Turkmenistan, and Indonesia to join Czech Republic at the top of Pool A.

She, though, would rather focus on her team’s progress than be blown away with the early predictions, noting that Italy still have ways to go before being worthy of being mentioned in the level of defending champion Russia or the US.

“We’ve seen Russia and the US and they’re great teams. There are other teams here where you say, ‘Wow, they’re great teams and they can play.’ They’ve been working hard and have great team dynamics,” she said.

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“But for us honestly, we’re not even thinking about the quarterfinals or anything past that. We need to work on what we need to work on. We’re just gonna try to be us and see how far that will take us.”

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