WHO wouldn’t want to have a prolific scorer like Terrence Romeo or a fierce defender in Calvin Abueva playing together for a team in a game of 3-on-3, right?
No wonder people are asking why the two were left out in the four-man Philippine team selection to the coming FIBA 3x3 World Cup slated at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan next month.
Named to the squad were TnT stalwarts Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy, Stanley Pringle of Globalport, and top PBA rookie pick Christian Standhardinger of San Miguel.
Coach Ronnie Magsanoc acknowledged the talent and skills of both Romeo and Abueva – along with the other PBA players considered for the position - and what exactly the two can bring to the table for the host team during the June 8 to 12 meet.
It’s just that he and his coaching staff feel the four players can effectively work together as a unit.
“Natural lang yan, kahit anong lineup (naman) ang piliin natin, meron silang kanya-kanyang gusto,” said Magsanoc as he addressed the absence of Romeo, the four-time league scoring champion, from the PH team, which is ranked second to the last out of the 20 teams competing in the men’s side of the meet.
“I’m sure marami rin namang naghahanap kay Calvin.”
“(But) it was a collective decision based on a lot of things, and the eventual decision is to really build a younger unit.”
Magsanoc cited the element of surprise as one of two major things the Filipinos could take advantage of during the five-day event.
Unlike most of the teams competing in the meet whose players have been playing together for years, the Filipino roster, according to Magsanoc, has yet to be scouted, with Rosario the only one who had previous experience of representing the country in 3x3 competition, having done so during the 2015 Manila Masters and the FIBA World Tour as part of the Manila North.
Romeo and Abueva had also suited up for the country in past FIBA 3x3 events.
“Hopefully, the four who were chosen for the team, hindi pa nakikita ng mga kalaban natin na naglalaro,” said Magsanoc, also an assistant coach at Meralco. “Kasi yung mga kalaban natin, naglalaro na buong taon in the last three to five years, so we’re banking on that, and hopefully it would work for us.”
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio added it was difficult to come up with the final lineup considering the huge collection of talent available made possible by the generosity of the PBA.
Other than Romeo and Abueva, others seriously considered for the team were Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Jayson Castro, Japeth Aguilar, Chris Ross, KG Canaleta, and Aldrich Ramos.
“The pool is really the PBA, so it’s tough to come up with the four names,” he said. “That’s why I would like to thank the PBA, especially the board, for the support it has given the SBP.”
But Magsanoc believes Standhardinger, Pogoy, Rosario, and Pringle can blend well as a team capable of giving the rest of the field a run for their money.
“Kung hahanapin natin yung lakas sa lakas, I don’t think makakatapat tayo. Kung hahanapin natin ay yung ganung klaseng laro, I don’t think na makakalusot tayo sa ngayon,” said the league great and Hall of Famer.
“Pero mayroong pamamaraan na nakikita kami na kayang gawin nung apat to be more competitive at that level.”
And instead of pondering on the ‘what ifs,’ Panlilio said it would be better for basketball fans to show support to the four-man squad.
“I hope everybody supports our choice of the four and would rally behind them,” said the Meralco executive.