ENERGIZED by the solid crowd support, Manila West rode on its red-hot shooting from the outside in the final two minutes to whip Doha, 21-17, and emerge as the 2014 Fiba 3x3 World Tour Manila Masters champion on Sunday at the Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall.
Nino Canaleta, Terrence Romeo, and Aldrich Ramos drained one two-point basket after another during that telling stretch to pull off the improbable victory against the highly-favored Doha side en route to the win worth US$10,000.
“Hindi kami nagpa-pressure. Basta enjoy lang namin,” a jubilant Canaleta told sports scribes shortly after the tension-filled match that saw Doha take a 14-12 at one point in the game.
With the win, Manila West earned the right to complete in the World Tour Final slated in Tokyo, Japan on October 11-12.
It was a sweet payback victory for Manila West, which suffered a 17-21 defeat to Doha in a highly-physical preliminary round match on Saturday.
But the 6-foot-6 Canaleta said the Qataris may have played a bit complacent in the Finals, considering they were the hands-down favorites to top the Manila leg of the tournament.
“Parang nasira yung game nila (Qataris), kasi siyempre, iniisip nila sila malakas dito. Eh kami naman nag play loose lang kasi pumapasok din yung mga outside shots namin,” added Canaleta, one of Talk ‘N Text’s top gunners and a five-time PBA Slam Dunk champion.
On the other hand, Romeo credited coach Eric Altamirano for mapping out a solid defensive and offensive strategy that paved the way for the team to pull the rug from under Doha.
“Si coach Eric ang nagsabi na kailangan naming makuha yung outside shooting namin. Siya ang gumawa ng strategy sa defense at sa offense, kasi kung wala yun, mahihirapan kami manalo,” said Romeo.