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Sports

Manila to host FIBA 3x3 world tilt

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – SBP executive director Sonny Barrios yesterday confirmed that Manila will host the fifth FIBA 3x3 World Championships in 2018 and said it’s a strong signal of the Philippines’ unflinching support of the international federation’s push to promote the game on a wide scale.

Barrios said FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann’s message to SBP chairman emeritus and FIBA Central Board member Manny V. Pangilinan is for the SBP to concentrate on spreading the gospel of basketball to cover three fronts – grassroots, 3x3 and females. “We’re complying with Mr. Baumann’s directive,” said Barrios. “In fact, we’re staging two national 3x3 championships in the U15 and U17 divisions for boys and girls. That means we’re addressing the grassroots and females through 3x3.”

Barrios said the SBP has been actively participating in international FIBA 3x3 events. Only last week, the Philippines was represented by Rey Guevarra, C. J. Perez, Bright Akhuetie and Sidney Onwubere at the FIBA 3x3 All Stars in Doha. Last October, the Philippines finished ninth of 20 at the FIBA 3x3 World Championships in Guangzhou. The team was made up of Mac Belo, Karl Dehesa, Russel Escoto and Glenn Khobuntin. Although seeded No. 19, the four-man squad overachieved in stunning Romania, 21-19 and crushing Poland, 21-8 but failed to advance to the quarterfinals after bowing to Spain, 21-16 and Hungary, 18-16.

Last June, the Philippines competed at the FIBA 3x3 World U18 Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. The team was composed of John Lloyd Clemente, Joshua Flores, Joshua Sinclair and Kyle Tan. The Philippines was seeded No. 13 but wound up 17th of 20.

Barrios said Manila was lined up to host the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Finals in 2018 but Pangilinan opted to stage the World Championships instead. “We were asked to choose which to host and MVP picked the World Championships which is the equivalent of the FIBA World Cup for five-on-five basketball,” said Barrios. “The target is to host the event in May 2018 with 20 teams for men and 20 teams for women. It’s a major event and we’re excited to showcase once more our organizational ability to stage a competition of this magnitude.”

The FIBA 3x3 World Championships were introduced in Athens in 2012 with Serbia emerging the winner. Then, in 2014, the tournament was held in Moscow with Qatar as champion. This year, Serbia topped the joust in Guangzhou. Barrios said FIBA recently decided to transform the event from a biennial to a yearly undertaking. Next year, the plan is for France to host.

Barrios said FIBA is less strict in the eligibility of 3x3 players. “There is no limit to naturalized players in a team and all FIBA requires is a passport showing the country represented,” said Barrios. So theoretically, the Philippines could field a team bannered by Andray Blatche and Jordan Clarkson at the FIBA 3x3 World Championships since both carry Filipino passports.

As for the Olympics, the FIBA Executive Committee recently met at the federation headquarters in Mies, Switzerland, and confirmed the intention to add the 3x3 platform in the Summer Games calendar. The 3x3 game made its international debut at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore and a year later, the first World U18 Championships were held with New Zealand claiming the crown in Rimini. The 3x3 World Tour Finals was introduced in 2012 with San Juan, Puerto Rico, bagging the title 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 supremacy. Slovenia won the first All-Stars title. Novi Sad, representing the United Arab Emirates, took the crown last year.

Expanding the basketball format beyond 12 teams for both men and women may not be an option for the Olympics but FIBA has found a way to grow the program with the proposed inclusion of 3x3 as a medal event starting the 2020 Tokyo Games. It’s still not certain how many teams FIBA will recommend for the 3x3 tournament in the Olympics.

Early this year, Barrios conferred with FIBA 3x3 director Alex Sanchez at the federation headquarters in Mies on how the Philippines may be more involved in the 10-minute, streetball game featuring a 12-second shot clock. Sanchez, who is Spanish, said the Philippines has raised eyebrows in recent 3x3 competitions with Kobe Paras’ back-to-back World U18 Slam Dunk titles and Manila West’s impressing showing at the World Tour Finals in Tokyo in 2014. Manila West was made up of Terrence Romeo, Aldrech Ramos, K. G. Canaleta and Guevarra.

Barrios said staging the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Championships will be like hosting the World Cup. The Philippines was one of two finalists in bidding to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup but lost to China in the final balloting. China has designated eight cities to host the classification games of the World Cup which will assemble 32 teams in the largest conclave ever.

SONNY BARRIOS

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