BOCAUE, Bulacan—Its inexperience in the sport of 3x3 basketball cost the Philippine men's team a chance to go 2-0 on its first day of action in the 2018 FIBA 3x3 Basketball World Cup on Saturday at the Philippine Arena.
The Filipinos opened the day on a winning note, dismantling a sixth-seeded Brazil team, 15-7. But they fell apart against the 11th-seeded Mongolians in their second game, bowing 21-17 after rushing out to an early 9-5 lead.
It was an eventful contest that saw Troy Rosario go down just 16 seconds into the contest due to a brutal pick from Tserenbaatar Enkhtaivan. Rosario and Roger Pogoy were called for costly unsportsmanlike fouls that helped Mongolia take control.
Physicality had also been a factor for the Philippines against Brazil, but the hosts dismissed that as a concern right off the bat.
"I think a lot of people have to get used to the physicality of 3x3, but it's not even close to the physicality of the PBA," Standhardinger said after the win against Braezil. "I had much respect on that, but I think Calvin Abueva and the other guys in the PBA prepared us greatly for this game."
He doubled down on this sentiment after the loss to Mongolia.
"The physicality is not the problem," Standhardinger declared.
Stanley Pringle also stressed that the Philippines team was "so ready" for the physical nature of the 3x3 game. "We prepared for it," said the GlobalPort guard. "The PBA is even more physical, and we're used to that."
Instead, the problem for the Philippines is "the inexperience we have," as Standhardinger noted.
The San Miguel Beer big man pointed out the nitty-gritty details that wound up costing the Philippines the game.
"They had two technical fouls (unsportsmanlike fouls) against us. That's four free throws, four points, plus two possessions," he explained. "So we give up like eight, 10 free throws." (Note: The Philippines gave up six free throws and shot only one.)
"And then, they have lucky 3s (long jumpers that are worth two points in 3x3), and then that's it," he added.
Mongolia, in contrast, was a team that knew how to play 3x3 basketball. The team that defeated the Philippines was the same squad that won bronze in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat last September.
The visitors' edge in experience was in full display in the final stretch of the contest, as Team Philippines coach Ronnie Magsanoc observed.
"One thing I learned from watching the elite teams, when they get at 19, they'll take the two-point shot no matter what. So we're still there, but they closed it out with the two-pointer," he said.
"We give credit to Mongolia," Pringle said. "They've been playing together for a while. But at the same time, we could've won the game."
Indeed, the Filipinos are not dwelling on the what-ifs. They know that they still have a chance – they play two more powerhouses in Russia and Canada on Monday – and are bolstered by the knowledge that they were a few bounces away from knocking off a more experienced Mongolian squad.
"It's a learning experience for us," Pringle said of the loss. "We're gonna chop the film up and see where we can work on, and try to work harder on Monday."
"This is just experience. It will come, don't worry," added Standhardinger. "There are better teams on Monday, so I don't know, but I do think that we will play better."
Pogoy, who had six points to lead the Philippines against Mongolia, also took heart in their win over Brazil in the first game. "Naka-isa kami," he noted. "Kung dalawang talo, wala na 'yung chance talaga."
There are no guarantees, of course, that the Philippines will win on Monday. Canada is 2-0 in the group, and had notched impressive wins over both Mongolia and Russia. Russia is 1-1, with its lone win a 20-16 decision over Brazil.
What Pringle can guarantee is that the Philippines will fight as hard as it possibly can – something that it proved on Saturday.
"They know, any team who plays against us, it's going to be really tough for them," said Pringle. "I feel like the other teams watching, they know it as well. We're gonna play hard, and we're gonna put on a show every time."
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