Manila West cops gold in FIBA 3x3 tiff
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - July 20, 2014 - 9:38pm

MANILA, Philippines – Slam-dunk champions KG Canaleta and Rey Guevarra, 3-point gunner Aldrech Ramos and cross-over dribble expert Terrence Romeo, putting together their skills on street-ball play, ruled the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Manila Masters before a huge, raucous crowd at the SM MegaMall Fashion Hall in Mandaluyong Sunday night.

Forming the Manila West team, Canaleta, Guevarra, Ramos and Romeo defied tremendous odds, withstanding tough opponents Auckland, Jakarta and Doha in the playoffs to win the gold medal in the kickoff leg of the 3x3 world series and the accompanying cash prize of $10,000.

Already assured of a berth in the world final in Tokyo in making the gold-medal game, the four PBA stalwarts still gutted it out and went all the way to bag the crown to the delight of the cheering home fans led by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan.

“It goes to show we’re really good in any form of basketball,” said Pangilinan of the latest achievement of Philippine basketball coming on the heels of Gilas Pilipinas’ bronze-medal performance in the Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.

Cashing in heavily on drive-and-kick play, the Filipinos cut down to size the giant Qataris, 21-17, in the finale.

Ramos and Romeo combined for three straight “twinners” to pull off the abbreviated victory with seven seconds left in the clock.

It’s a huge upset considering the Qataris, all standing 6-foot-7 and above, were the overwhelming title favorites coming from their conquest of the world crown in Moscow last month.

In the prelims, the Qataris topped the Filipinos with the same count.

But riding the momentum of quarterfinal and semis wins over Auckland and Jakarta, the Manila West quartet turned the tables on the Qataris in the finale.

The Filipinos jumped the gun on Malek Abdulla, Yaseem Mousa and Mohamed Abdulla, 12-4, and showed great poise and composure in a fierce battle at the finish, pulling through in the end with missiles from the rainbow territory.

Romeo broke a 17-all count with a twinner from the left quartercourt with 43 ticks left and, after key stoppages, Ramos drained another “two” to end the match – a 10-minute contest or a race-to-21-point game.

Ramos and Guevarra fired seven points apiece, Canaleta tossed in five and Romeo chipped in two. 

In splitting their two games in the preliminary round Saturday, Canaleta and company found themselves ranged against the tall and versatile third-ranked New Zealand bets in the quarterfinals.

But Canaleta, Guevarra, Ramos and Romeo didn’t flinch, starting and finishing strong to stun the Kiwis, 14-9.

“To me that’s the semifinal game for our team because New Zealand is really strong,” said coach Eric Altamirano, the one who trained for two weeks all the four Phl teams in this FIBA 3x3 event.

In the real Final Four, Manila West overcame Jakarta’s strong start, rallying from 2-7 down to score an 18-14 win and earn the first slot in the finale.

Canaleta converted a pull-back and an accompanying foul shot while Guevarra struck on two drives as Manila West pulled away from the reigning champs Indons in the final minute.

“Worthwhile yung pagsali namin dito. Masaya although mahirap,” said Canaleta.

Doha stamped its class on Surabaya, 20-15, to arrange the title showdown with Manila West.

In the quarterfinals, the Qataris torched the Manila North team of Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel and Jake Pascual with eight “twinners” en route to an abbreviated 21-8 rout.

Manila North was reduced to a three-man team after Ian Sangalang suffered an ankle sprain right in their first match Saturday.

The two other Phl squads in Manila East and Manila South also failed to make it past the quarterfinals.

Manila South, however, wowed the crowd before falling by the wayside.

The Manila South quartet of Joshua Irvin Ayo, Raphael Jude de Vera, Karl Kenneth Estrada and Adonis Christian Nismal, the winner of the Talk n Text-SBP U18 Tatluhan National Championship, pushed to the limit Surabaya before eventually losing a pulsating battle, 20-21.

Indon star Rony Gunawan lifted his team to the thriller of a win with an outside shot just before the buzzer sounded.

The Manila East team of Jerie Pingoy, John Adrian Wong, Daryl Henderson Jr. and Karbala Gueye also dropped a close match to Jakarta, 12-15.

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