AMIDST the celebration of TNT winning the opening leg of the PBA 3x3, coach Mau Belen already had her mind going through the next phase of the tournament.
With little rest in between the start of the second leg on Wednesday, the champion lady mentor was a bit concerned about the health of one of her key players in Samboy de Leon.
Samboy de Leon injury
“I’m worried kasi si Samboy medyo na-injured niya yung leg niya and we (only) have two days of practice for the next leg,” she said.
“So that’s in my mind right now.”
De Leon forms part of the TNT quartet of Jeremiah Gray, Almond Vosotros, and Lervin Flores who swept their way to the top and won the inaugural tournament of the three-a-side event of Asia’s oldest professional league.
And following the Tropang Giga’s championship run, there’s no doubt the rest of the 12 teams, including the three guest ballclubs, are going to be hot on the trail of the inaugural winner.
TNT will usher hostilities in the second leg when they encounter Zamboanga Valientes in another 17-game schedule in the offing on opening day.
The Tropang Giga remain in Pool A along with Cavitex, Sista Super Sealers, Zamboanga, and San Miguel.
Runner-up Meralco meanwhile, leads Pool B together with Terrafirma, Barangay Ginebra, and Limitless Appmasters.
Third place Purefoods TJ Titans banner Pool C with Platinum Karaoke, NorthPort, and Pioneer Pro Tibay.
Belen sees the going will get even tougher for the Tropang Giga compared to the first leg despite them winning the title by sweeping all of their seven games, including the finals, a 21-18 win over Meralco Bolts.
“3x3 is no joke that’s why I can’t explain how hard it is talaga,” she said. “I keep on pushing my players to just give their all, pero yung toll na tine-take sa kanila, yung pagod, yung sunud-sunod na laro, it’s just difficult.”
At least the next two days will give TNT the chance to know even more the 6-foot-5 Gray, who still complemented the trio of Vosotros, De Leon, and Flores despite just practicing with the team for about a week after completing his five-day quarantine protocol.
Gray carried the Tropang Giga on his back in the winner-take-all finals, scoring more than half of the team’s total output with 11, including four in a row that put the team at match point inside the final two minutes.