THE Philippines begins its campaign in the Fiba 3x3 Under-23 World Cup on Wednesday in Xi’An, China.
The Nationals will face seventh seed Slovenia at 7 p.m. local time and top-seed Serbia at 8:50 p.m. in Pool C.
The team led by Ricci Rivero will take on No. 15 Turkmenistan on Thursday, 5 p.m., and host and No. 8 China at 8:40 p.m.
Also suiting up for the Philippines are former University of Santo Tomas center Jeepy Faundo, Far Eastern University juniors player RJ Abarrientos and San Beda juniors cager Rhayyan Amsali.
The top two teams in each of the four groups will advance to the quarterfinals.
“SBP is determined to increase the popularity of 3x3 in our country,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio.
“Aside from establishing and strongly pushing for local 3x3 tournaments, we are also just starting to actively participate in international competitions with the goal of getting the necessary experience and at the same time improve on our world ranking which is currently pegged at No. 47,” Panlilio said.
“It's a commitment for SBP, to continuously push for a solid 3x3 program and to execute an efficient roadmap heading to the Olympics in 2020 and beyond,” Panlilio added.
Coach Ronnie Magsanoc is unfazed as the Philippines battles the world's top 3x3 teams.
“We are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament but we want to compete with the best in the world," Magsanoc said after the team left for China on Tuesday.
Rivero returns to 3x3 play after representing the country in the Fiba 3x3 Under-18 World Cup in 2015 where he played alongside Kobe Paras, Mike Nieto and Richard Escoto.