FIBA invites active 3x3 Philippine involvement

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2016 - 9:00am

MIES – FIBA 3x3 director Alex Sanchez explored ways for the Philippines to be more involved in the fast-paced, 10-minute streetball game featuring a 12-second shot clock during a meeting with SBP executive director Sonny Barrios at the world governing body’s headquarters in this Swiss village, near Geneva, recently.

Sanchez, who is Spanish, said the Philippines’ participation in the last two FIBA 3x3 World Tour Finals and Kobe Paras’ back-to-back World U18 Slam Dunk Championships are key reasons why FIBA would like the country to actively participate in 3x3 events. Manila West’s Terrence Romeo, Aldrech Ramos, K. G. Canaleta and Rey Guevarra represented the Philippines at the World Tour Finals in Tokyo in 2014 while Manila North’s Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel, Troy Rosario and Karl Dehesa wore the national colors in last year’s edition in Abu Dhabi. Last December, FIBA invited Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, Bright Akhuetie and Ola Adeogun to play for the Philippines in an exhibition at the 3x3 All-Stars in Doha.

FIBA said 3x3 is a critical ingredient of its strategy to expand the global market for basketball by bringing the sport to the heart of cities with events transformed into urban culture festivals. Sanchez said the plan is to introduce 3x3 as a basketball event in the Olympics starting with the 2020 Tokyo Games. While there is no confirmation of its inclusion in the Olympic calendar, the betting is 3x3 will be welcomed in Tokyo.

Sanchez said the Philippines is seeded to play at the third FIBA 3x3 World Championships in Guangzhou on Oct. 11-15. There are 20 men’s teams listed for the World Championships – Andorra, Brazil, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the US and Uruguay. The World Championships are held every two years. The first edition was won by Serbia in Athens in 2012 and the second by Qatar in Moscow in 2014. The Philippines will make its debut at the World Championships this year.

Sanchez said players at the World Championships must be at least 16 and are eligible to represent a country showing only a passport. There is no limit for naturalized players in a team. Sanchez said the Philippines may bring in players from the PBA or the collegiate ranks. “The competition will bring honor to the country,” said Sanchez. “Every country will be represented by a national team. We’re hoping the Philippines will send a competitive team. The results in the last two World Tour Finals showed a strong performance by the Philippines so we expect the Philippine team to be a contender at the World Championships.”

FIBA started its 3x3 program at the Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010. The next year, it organized the first World U18 Championships with New Zealand claiming the title in Rimini, Italy. The World Tour Finals was introduced in 2012 with San Juan, Puerto Rico, bagging the crown in Miami. The World Tour Finals is the culmination of a series of Masters qualifying legs played in different cities every year.

Manila hosted a Masters leg in 2014 with Manila West qualifying to advance to the World Tour Finals in Tokyo. Manila West wound up fifth of 12 in the Finals. Manila hosted another Masters leg last year with Manila North moving on to the Finals in Abu Dhabi. Manila North finished sixth of 12.

In 2013, FIBA unveiled another 3x3 platform called the All-Stars where the world’s No. 1 3x3 players battle for the championship in a six-team event. Slovenia won the first All-Stars title. Novi Sad, representing the United Arab Emirates, took the crown last year.

Sanchez said Abu Dhabi will host the World Tour Finals this year and the next with the Philippines taking over in 2018. Doha was recently awarded the hosting rights for the All-Stars up to 2020. Kazakhstan will host the World U18 Championships in June this year.

“The sky’s the limit for 3x3 basketball as a global event,” said Sanchez. “It is an extremely successful TV product and brings the game to where the kids are in the streets. We’re excited about enlarging the 3x3 platform all over the world.”

Sanchez told Barrios that he foresees the emergence of dedicated 3x3 players representing their country in events every year. A prime example is the world’s No. 1 3x3 player Dusan Bulut of Serbia. “Two years ago, Japan became the first country in the world to organize a professional 10-week 3x3 league with six teams,” said Sanchez. “China may also form its own 3x3 league with six to 12 teams. A 3x3 event with six teams is over in three hours and that’s why it’s so exciting. You’ll see the rise of underground stars.”

Sanchez said a Southeast Asian 3x3 league could be a possibility with two Philippine teams participating. “3x3 is the basketball event of the future,” he said. “When 3x3 is introduced in the Olympics, I predict even more players getting involved in the streetgame. We know how passionate Filipinos are in their love for basketball. In Abu Dhabi and Doha, the venues are packed when Filipinos come out to play 3x3. It’s a game where Filipinos can excel and showcase their individual skills. We’ve seen how players like Romeo and Abueva can thrill the crowds. We’re hoping the Philippines is more involved in FIBA’s 3x3 events.”

Barrios said he will study options of how the Philippines may be able to participate more actively in FIBA 3x3 tournaments. “The availability of players is what we’ll look into,” he said. “Our players have commitments to their mother teams in the PBA or the collegiate leagues. There’s no question the Philippines would like to be more involved with FIBA events as an active member nation. We share FIBA’s dream of 3x3 as a springboard to attract a larger fan base for the game.”

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