PLAIN and simple, it was a good, old-fashioned battle of attrition.
Karl Dehesa admitted the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards truly gave Uling Roasters-Butuan a hard time in a testy and highly physical quarterfinal duel in the preseason tournament of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup.
"They really came out with high intensity," he said. "They really wanted to win. They wanted to beat us. I think they had something to prove."
Butuan, which was made up of Philippines No. 4 ranked 3x3 player Dehesa, No. 7 Chris de Chavez, No. 8 Franky Johnson, No. 19 JR Alabanza, and veteran guard Chico Lanete, is considered as one of the top teams in the pioneering 3x3 league.
Such reputation made them a target, as seen with Nueva Ecija wanting to knock it off of its pedestal.
The Rice Vanguards succeeded, taking the 21-10 victory with 26 fouls being called on the two sides on Monday.
"It's a highly emotional, highly physical game. It went out of hand lang talaga," admitted Alabanza. "It got into our heads, yung pisikalan. We tried to control it, yung late part, pero medyo late na so we ended up losing."
Not only did the game go out of hand for Butuan, but the heightened intensity also contributed to its downfall.
"It was a good game, competitive, but no rhythm, no flow to it, for us at least," said Dehesa.
The Fil-Am sniper, however, argued that some calls shouldn't have been whistled. Some of his pleas were only to ask for clarification, he added.
"Not really reacting, it was more of me asking a question. The style of play in previous games had been the same way. It was kind of a polar opposite from what they were calling," he said.
"I just wanted to get some clarification on calls, what's allowed, what's not allowed now. They informed me that it's gonna be a lot cleaner now. It's an Olympic sport so they want it to be more appealing to the eyes."
Dehesa, though, still praised Nueva Ecija for a game well played.
"They won yesterday. We know what we have to do now and we just move forward. I'm happy that we experienced that type of adversity this early in the tournament rather than experience it later on," he said.
Johnson, meanwhile, is already looking forward to the next time the two teams cross paths.
"We know what we have to do to come back. We're looking forward to the rematch," he said.