SENDAI, Japan – Kranj of Slovenia proved too experienced for Manila West on Sunday, holding the Filipinos without a basket in the last five minutes in advancing to the semis, 21-12, of the the Fiba 3x3 World Tour Finals at the Xebio Sports Arena.
Seeded third in the tournament, the Slovenians, who swept Pool C to draw Manila West, the No. 2 team from Pool B, as quarterfinal opponent, displayed a decisive familiarity to the demands of the fledgling Fiba event as they took control when the Filipinos began fading defensively in the last half of the match.
The quartet of KG Canaleta, Aldrech Ramos, Rey Guevarra and Terrence Romeo failed to score in the final 5:13 that negated their effort to claw back to within 14-12 after trailing, 11-6.
Guevarra, the Meralco Bolts forward, came off the bench to score six straight points with two long two-pointers to put pressure on Kranj (pronounced: Kran-i), the runnerup in the Lausanne Masters.
But Manila West, which beat Sao Paolo on its first game, fizzled out after that.
A step slow on defense against an aggressive team clearly attuned to the nuances of the international 3x3 game, No. 10 Manila West, which lost to No. 2 Bucharest Saturday, 15-13, also found trouble managing the 10-second shot clock and getting off shots against the taller and heavier Slovenians.
“Ang laki na, ang bibigat pa,” said Canaleta, now with the NLEX Road Warriors, as he got tossed around under the basket by 6-foot-8 Jure Erzen or 6-foot-5 Mensud Julevic when he was not sprinting to put a hand on hotshot Dario Krejic who accounted for six of Kranj’s last eight points.
“Ang lalakas pang mangapit,” said Romeo, who tied the score, 3-all, and put Manila West in the thick of the fight, 6-5 and 8-6, before the Slovenians took advantage of two defensive lapses by the Filipinos to score three quick points and open up an 11-6 advantage.
"Iba rin 'yung galaw nila, pang 3-on-3 talaga; alam mong ensayado sila ng husto," said Guevarra.
“It was a learning experience for all of us,” said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, head of the Philippine team which included Under-18 players Dino San Juan of La Salle-Greenhills and JP Cauilan and Chino Mosqueda of National University who played a number of 3x3 matches with different Japanese teams as part of Fiba’s 3x3 program.
“SBP intends to expand Fiba’s 3x3 involvement in our grassroots program and we hope to use the World Tour as springboard,” Barrios added.
Bucharest went on to whip No. 9 Jakarta, 21-8, to move to the semifinal round along with No. 1 seed Novi Sad of Serbia, which survived a virtual rugby match with No. 4 Trbovlje of Slovenia, 15-13, and No. 5 Saskatoon of Canada, which demolished Denver, 21-3.
Playing at presstime for slots in the final were Bucharest against Saskatoon, and Novi Sad against Kranj.