PBA 3x3: Champion Sista vows to keep underdog mindset

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2021 02:16 PM

The Sista Super Sealers take a selfie after winning the third leg of the PBA 3x3 competition. PBA Media Bureau
The Sista Super Sealers take a selfie after winning the third leg of the PBA 3x3 competition. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- In a span of nine days, the Sista Super Sealers went from winless to champions.

The team -- composed of Prince Rivero, RJ Argamino, Leodaniel De Vera, and Kenneth Mocon -- struggled in the first leg of the PBA 3x3 competition, where they dropped all of their group round games.

"'Yung first leg, talagang wala," recalled Argamino. "Nagkapaan kami."

They showed swift improvement, making the quarterfinals in the second leg before ruling the third leg in emphatic fashion. The Super Sealers were unbeaten in six games, and capped their breakthrough campaign with a 20-13 rout of Pioneer Pro Tibay in the final.

"I'm very proud of these guys," said De Vera, already a veteran 3x3 campaigner even before the PBA launched its 3x3 league. "Lahat talaga nag-step up, nag-lead, nag-take control of the game."

"Our chemistry, we stuck together talaga. Walang sisihan hanggang sa dulo, and masaya ako doon," he added.

Shining brightest in the final was Mocon, who scored nine points while waxing hot from two-point range.

Mocon said they had no doubt that they will get the hang of the 3x3 competition even after a disappointing start to their campaign in the first conference.

"Ever since the start, first leg pa lang, every game, we learned," he said. "And alam namin sa sarili namin na magkakaroon ng time na, eto na nga, 'yung chemistry namin, mabubuo na."

"We did really well dito," he beamed.

But winning a leg is one thing, and repeating as champions is another. So far, no team has won consecutive legs in the PBA 3x3.

TNT Tropang GIGA ruled the first leg but settled for third place in the second, with Meralco 3x3 emerging as champions there. In the third leg, TNT was eliminated in the knockout game for the last quarterfinals berth, while Meralco fell to Purefoods in the last eight.

Rivero believes they have the key to sustained success in the 3x3 competition, however.

"Like what we always tell each other, we're gonna stay the underdogs until the end of the tournament," said the former De La Salle University standout. "That's how we're gonna keep our feet on the ground."

"We're gonna take it one game at a time, one practice at a time," he added. "We're focused on the things we can control, and the things we can't control, we're gonna let God handle."

The fourth leg of the PBA 3x3 is expected to open next weekend, giving teams more time to rest and prepare after the first three legs were completed in a nine-day span.