‘Three kings’ crowned tonight

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — After six legs of intense, lung-busting half-court action, the last 10 teams standing figure in the mother of all battles with the coveted PBA 3x3 First Conference championship on the line today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Top seed Meralco leads the combatants in the one-day grand finals backed by 1Pacman Party List for a place in history in the inaugural hoopfest and a whopping P750,000 champion’s purse.

The Leg 2-winning Bolts, along with Leg 1 victor TNT, Legs 5 and 6 ruler Limitless App and consistent contender Platinum Karaoke were seeded straight into the quarterfinal round for finishing in the Top 4 in the team standings.

The six other finalists, meanwhile, contest the four remaining quarterfinal berths in the preliminary round firing off at 1 p.m.

No. 5 Terrafirma, eighth-ranked Leg 3 winner Sista Super Sealers and No. 9 San Miguel Beer clash in Pool A while sixth-ranked and Leg 4 victor Purefoods, No. 7 Pioneer Pro Tibay and No. 10 Barangay Ginebra go at it in Pool B.

The top two teams in each pool then move on to the knockout rounds. The quarterfinals start at around 4 p.m. followed immediately by the semifinals and the finals.

No. 1 Meralco takes a crack without ace playmaker Tonino Gonzaga (hamstring injury). Bolts coach Patrick Fran said they decided not to rush Gonzaga’s return and instead tapped Maclean Sabellina to join Joseph Sedurifa, Dexter Maiquez and Alfred Batino.

“Laban lang. We’ll see how far we can get,” Fran told the STAR, adding the Bolts will bank on their defense as always. “That’s what got us here so we just have to do it again.”

Second-ranked TNT, meanwhile, brought back Samboy de Leon to rejoin Almond Vosotros, Lervin Flores and Chris Javier.

“We’re very excited sa grand finals. We made sure we prepared well even during the holidays and mentally, we are ready to compete,” coach Mau Belen said.

The PBA 3x3 grand finals offer P250,000 for the runner-up and P100,000 for third placer.



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