MANILA, Philippines – Regardless of how their campaign in the 2018 FIBA 3x3 Basketball World Cup ended, the Philippine women's team still etched their names in the history books simply by participating in the tournament.
Jack Animam, Afril Bernardino, Gemma Miranda, and Janine Pontejos were the first Filipina players to compete in the 3x3 World Cup. Their inexperience showed, as they dropped all four of their games – including heartbreaking losses to Germany, Spain, and Hungary.
But their competitive spirit and fighting heart got the attention of the Filipino fans at the Philippine Arena, who showed their appreciation for the national team at the end of every loss.
For the players, to have been part of the event was already a great honor.
"Sa aming apat, siyempre masaya kami na unang-una, pinagkatiwalaan kami na dalhin 'yung flag ng Pilipinas dito sa World Cup. Sobrang privileged namin kasi ang dami niyang iba na mas magagaling, pero kami ang binigyan nila ng tiwala," said Animam, one of three National University (NU) players in the line-up.
"Masayang-masaya kami kasi sabi nga ni ED (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios) kanina, kami 'yung pioneer nitong World Cup sa Pilipinas," she added.
"Sa dami ng players na magagaling, sinama niya po ako sa mga players," added the diminutive Pontejos, who at 5-foot-5 was the team's leading scorer.
The team has just one wish: that the 3x3 program will continue.
"I'm looking forward for this na mag-continue, and sana 'yun nga, magtuloy-tuloy, and sana magkaroon talaga ng team for 3x3, para lahat ma-experience, ma-expose pa lalo," said Animam, who repeatedly lamented their lack of experience at the international level all throughout the event.
"Sana po this time, magkaroon po kami ng more experience pa po, more learnings pa po na tulad nito. Sana po may mga dumating pa pong ganitong opportunities sa amin," added Bernardino, the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player from NU.
For coach Patrick Aquino, it will be ideal if a 3x3 women's program will be developed separately from the 5-on-5 game. "It's definitely very different from 5-on-5," he said of the sport, which is a race-to-21 game played at half-court.
"Siguro, kailangan hati from the 5-on-5 and the 3x3," Aquino added. "Kung seseryosohin natin, we have to have a program for both. Different 'yung dalawa, so 'di pwedeng sabay."
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