The Philippine contingent for the upcoming FIBA 3×3 World Cup beginning on June 17 is as good as it gets when it comes to half court basketball.
The team features young stars Jeron Teng, Kiefer Ravena, Kobe Paras, and PBA veteran JR Quiñahan. It is a unit boasting speed, athleticism, versatility, and shooting – all of which are essential in a 3-on-3 setting.
All four stars will head to Nantes, France on Friday morning where they will compete against the top 3×3 teams of the country until June 21. As they go and try to take home the gold medal, Coach Eric Altamirano, who is the team’s mentor (there are no official coaches in 3×3 basketball), shared his thoughts in forming the best basketball team fit for 3×3 FIBA basketball.
“We need players that are multi-dimensional,” Altamirano shared during Chooks-to-go’s send-off for the Philippine team on Wednesday. “Big men who can shoot from the outside, and hopefully players that can attack the basket like a Calvin (Abueva) or Jeron, ito yung mga players na kailangan dyan. Marunong kang mag drive, good one-on-one player.”
Altamirano also revealed who he feels can best represent the country in a 3-on-3 setting if PBA players were allowed. They are Calvin Abueva, Troy Rosario, Vic Manuel, and Terrence Romeo.
“These are the players who played for us before sa mga previous FIBA 3×3 tournaments namin. Unfortunately because of the schedule of the games sa PBA, hindi sila napayagan eh,” the coach said about the PBA veterans. “So we have to get the best available talent, which is itong mga to.”
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) recently included 3×3 basketball as one of the official medal sports. And since the Philippines has been a consistent participant in FIBA 3×3 tournaments, the country has a legitimate chance at claiming gold in the future.
And according to Altamirano, versatility, shooting, and athleticism are among the key ingredients in compiling a competitive team. This isn’t surprising considering the huge differences from playing 5-on-5 basketball. For one, 3-on-3 basketball is obviously played in a half court setting.
“Yung difference lang talaga is the rule and the size of the court,” Paras, the team’s youngest member at 19 years old, said. “Because people think it’s a half court, but it’s shorter than a half court. And yung lalaruan namin, it’s not wood or rubber, it’s like material, parang Lego.”
Then there’s the basketball itself used in the competitions. The ball in FIBA 3×3 is relatively smaller as compared to standard-issue ones used in various leagues. “Same weight as the big ball, maliit lang siya. May adjustment dun,” Altamarino attested.
The speed and pace of the 3×3 game also plays a huge factor. Games are 10 minutes long, or a race to 21 points. Each team is also allowed only one timeout per game and as mentioned earlier, there are no coaches on the sidelines.
“Mae-experience pa nila [yung] 3-on-3, hindi 5-on-5, hindi takbuhan. Kasi dito, dapat diskartehan dito,” shared Calvin Abueva, who was present in the send-off, showing his support. “Hindi lang individual ang gagawin mo dito. Ma-diskarte ka dapat talaga kung paano mag-shoot, pano dumepensa. Kasi may rules yan eh, kailangan sundan mo yung rules kesa sa 5-on-5.” The tenacious PBA forward was also a 3×3 participant back in 2015.
“It’s really a fast game. Just like what Calvin said, there’s a strategy there,” echoed Altamirano. “So di lang siya laro ka lang nang laro, you have to analyze the game, understand the game, to know what you’re gonna do.”
The difference in international 3-on-3 competitions will play a huge role in selecting players who can best represent the country. As for the upcoming competition in France, the team is confident that they can compete at a high-level.
“All these things, all the rules, but it’s not hard. When I was a kid I’ve been playing 3×3 pero I didn’t have all the rules, but still the same thing,” Paras confidently said.
“Ang first impression ko is it’s a young team, but a lot of potential,” Altamirano discussed, regarding the quartet of Paras, Teng, Ravena, and Quiñahan. “I was very excited actually being able to complete the team, bring in Kiefer, bring in Jeron, who I think will be the future of Philippine basketball.”
The Philippines 3×3 team will kick off their World Cup campaign by taking on Romania and France as their first assignments on June 19, followed by Slovenia and Salvador on the 20th in the pool stages of the tournament.