MANILA North settled for a runner-up finish in the Manila leg of the 2015 FIBA 3x3 World Tour after bowing to NoviSad AlWahad, 14-21, on Sunday in the championship match played before a jampacked crowd at Robinsons’ Place in Manila.
Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel, Karl Dehesa, and Troy Rosario found themselves in a big hole early on against the all-Serbian line-up of Dusan Domovic Bulut, Dejan Majstorovic, Marko Savic, and Marko Zdero as the Filipinos trailed, 1-7.
Abueva and Co. never recovered and lost to the reigning FIBA 3x3 World Tour champion.
Manila North advanced to the final after dethroning last year’s Manila Masters champion Manila West, 21-19, in an all-Filipino semifinals, 21-19. It earlier beat Kobe, Japan, 21-18, in a highly-physical quarterfinal match.
Despite the runner-up finish, Manila North booked a berth in the FIBA 3x3 World Tour finals set in October in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
“May set play sila, may galaw,” said Abueva of the Serbians. “Kaya sila world champions. Pero masaya na rin kami, naka-14 points kami sa kanila.”
Abueva was referring to Manila North’s scoring output against NoviSad, the highest total scored by a team the World Tour champion faced in the Manila Masters.
National University coach Eric Altamirano, one of those who helped the preparation of the Philippine team for the event, was still satisfied with the result.
“I’m very happy with our performance. Making it to the semifinals was a great feat. ‘Yung Novi na ‘yan, sila ‘yung nag-champion sa world. Pinakita talaga nila ‘yung puso nila especially the North team. Talagang they thrive on effort and hustle,” said Altamirano.
A near melee also ensued in the championship match after Savic hit Karl Dehesa during one sequence, prompting Manuel to step in, before cooler heads prevailed.
Manila West’s Terrence Romeo meanwhile, was adjudged Most Valuable Player of the meet.