SENDAI, Japan – Winning two games in a span of two hours in the Fiba 3x3 World Tour Finals may have been a little too much, even for Manila West’s Terrence Romeo.
Manila West brought down Sao Paolo but couldn’t pull it off against Bucharest on Saturday, settling for the No. 2 spot in Pool B which ranges the Filipinos against Pool C leader Kranj of Slovenia in the knockout quarterfinals at the Xebio Sports Arena in Nagamachi.
The Kranj-Manila game is at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday (Manila time).
Romeo went to his left hand to beat Sao Paolo, 21-17, but forced a two-pointer that could have won it in overtime against Bucharest, allowing the Romanians to dodge the bullet, 15-13, and clinch the No. 1 position going to the quarterfinals
Bucharest battles Jakarta for a seat in the semifinals.
No. 10-ranked Manila West, which kicked off the knockout game with six straight unanswered points, handed the No. 6 Brazilians their second loss in the eliminations, knocking them out of the running.
The quartet of Globalport’s Romeo, NLEX’s KG Canaleta and Aldrech Ramos and Meralco’s Rey Guevarra qualified to the world championship by ruling the Manila Masters leg while the Romanians emerged victorious in Prague.
Jakarta took the place of Doha here after key Qatari players were hit with injuries during the Incheon Asian Games in South Korea.
With practically no time to train before the event, Manila West went to the tournament looking like the neophytes they are against the heavier and more experienced European and American teams.
But against the taller and bigger Brazilians, runners-up to Santos in the Rio de Janeiro Masters, Manila West used its quickness and outside shooting to set the early pace, with Romeo and Ramos doing the most damage. The Filipinos never trailed but showed some nerves when Sao Paolo came within 14-13 and 20-17 after trailing by six points.
Stuck at 20, Manila West missed three straight attempts before Romeo waved off his teammates and went one-on-one against Sao Paolo counterpart Rodrigo del Arco, leaving the Brazilian playmaker half a step behind and then going to his left when 45-year-old Joao Luciano slid over to help.
Three consecutive two-point baskets from outside the arc from Ramos (2) and Romeo gave Manila West an 18-13 advantage. But burly forward Fabio Santos hit a two-pointer and Del Arco made it a three-point game before Romeo, who dropped 30 pounds during the off-season to reignite his quickness, revved it up.
So exhausted were the Filipinos after the Sao Paolo game that they were all but drained of energy against the Romanians, led by 6-foot-6 wide body Bodgan Popescu whom his countrymen calls “Popeye.”
Still Romeo had enough left in the tank to let fly a Hail Mary with time running out in the 10-minute regular period to tie the game, 13-all, forcing the first-to-score two straight points extra period.
A dying second two-pointer by Bucharest was nullified but the victory was clinched anyway as Angel Santana scored easily under the basket against a fading defense and Catalin Vlaicu hit a free throw after Romeo missed an off-balanced two-point attempt with the 10-second shot clock winding down.
Other teams making it to the knockout round on Sunday are Novi Sad of Serbia and Denver of the United States from Pool A and Saskatoon of Canada and Trbovlje of Slovenia from Pool D. Ousted were Santos and Sao Paolo of Brazil, Wukesong of China and Kobe of host Japan.
The FIBA 3x3 World Tour champion team brings home US$20,000 and a ticket to the Fiba 3x3 All-Stars. The runnerup get $5,000. In the individual sidelights, the slam dunk champion claims $2,000, the second and third placer $500 each. A Samsung tablet goes to the shootout winner.