Manila West plays against Slovenian team Kranj in the quarter-finals of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Finals in Sendai, Japan. Handout photo.
MANILA, Philippines – Kranj of Slovenia proved to be too experienced for Manila West, holding the Filipinos without a basket in the final five minutes to advance to the semi-finals of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Finals at the Xebio Sports Arena in Sendai, Japan on Sunday.
The third-seeded Slovenians, who swept Pool C to draw Manila West in the quarter-finals, displayed a decisive familiarity of the demands of the fledgling FIBA event as they took control when the Filipinos began fading defensively in the second half of the game.
The quartet of KG Canaleta, Aldrech Ramos, Rey Guevarra and Terrence Romeo failed to score in the final 5:13 of the game, negating their effort to claw back at 14-12 after trailing, 11-6.
Kranj went on to win, 21-12, to advance to the semi-finals of the tournament.
Meralco's Guevarra had come off the bench to score six straight points with a pair of long two-pointers to put pressure on Kranj, the runner-up in the Lausanne Masters.
But Manila West, which beat Sao Paulo in its first game, fizzled out after that.
A step slow on defense against an aggressive team that was clearly attuned to the nuances of the international 3x3 game, the 10th seeded Manila West also found trouble managing the 10-second shot clock and getting off shots against the taller and heavier Slovenians.
"Ang laki na, ang bibigat pa," said Canaleta, who found himself getting tossed around under the basket by 6-foot-8 Jure Erzen and 6-foot-5 Mensud Julevic when he was not sprinting to put a hand on hotshot Dario Krejic, who accounted for six of Kranj's last eight points.
"Ang lalakas pang magapit," said Romeo, who tied the score, 3-all, and then put Manila West in the thick of the first, 6-5 and 8-6, before the Slovenians took advantage of two defensive lapses by the Filipinos to score three quick points and open up an 11-6 advantage.
"Iba rin 'yung galaw nila, pang 3-on-3 talaga. Alam mong ensayado sila ng husto," said Guevarra.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios said the event was "a learning experience for all of us."
"SBP intends to expand FIBA's 3x3 involvement in our grassroots program, and we hope to use the World Tour as a springboard," Barrios added.
Bucharest went on to whip No. 9 Jakarta, 21-8, to move to the semi-final round along with No. 1 seed Novi Sad of Serbia, which survived a virtual rugby match with No. 4 Trbovlje of Slovenia, 15-13, and No. 5 Saskatoon of Canada, which demolished Denver, 21-3.