BOCAUE, Bulacan – (UPDATED) The Philippines will not go empty-handed from the 2018 FIBA 3x3 Basketball World Cup.
This, after Filipina standout Janine Pontejos ruled the shoot-out contest on Tuesday at the Philippine Arena.
Matched up against Maksim Dybovskii and Alexandra Stolyar of Russia, and Marin Hrvoje of Croatia, Pontejos displayed the sweet-shooting stroke that made her a big crowd favorite at the venue.
After Dybovskii opened the contest by scoring eight points, Pontejos came out to a huge ovation and did not let the fans at the Philippine Arena down. She converted 10 shots from the regular rack – including eight straight shots at one point – then made two of her three attempts from the bonus rack.
The former Centro Escolar University star completed the course with a blistering time of 41.86 seconds – way faster than Russia's Stolyar, who also scored 14 points but needed 49.9 seconds to finish the racks.
"Sobra po akong kinakabahan," Pontejos said afterwards. "Umpisa pa lang, nanlalamig na ang kamay ko. Sobrang hirap po, kasi ang lakas ng aircon, eh ang nipis ko po. So kailangan, pawisan ako."
"Nung maglalaro na ako, sobrang lamig pa rin ako. Kinamayan nila ako, malamig pa rin kamay ko. Inimagine ko na lang, nag-di-drills lang kami so buti na lang lumabas yung shooting ko," she added.
Croatia's Hrvoje got the bronze medal with 11 points in 44.3 seconds.
Pontejos was admittedly worried after seeing Stolyar tie her final score, but just left the result up to God.
"Nag-pray na lang ako kay God kung ano 'yung kalabasan. Proud pa rin ako na kahit second or third man makuha ko, basta makapasok ako dito sa finals," she said.
It was the first time that the Philippines had won a gold medal in the senior level of FIBA 3x3. Kobe Paras twice won the FIBA 3x3 slam dunk contest at the under-18 level, in 2013 and 2015.
"Ipinagmamalaki ko po na Pilipino ako," said Pontejos, who earned the gold during the Philippine Indepence Day. "Para sa Pilipinas 'to."
Pontejos reached the final by scoring six points in just 22 seconds during the qualifying round last Sunday. Only the two fastest men and the two fastest women advanced to the final round.
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