Pinay cager tops shoot-out contest

By Waylon Galvez.

BOCAUE, Bulacan – Janine Pontejos provided a huge relief on a cool, rainy day when she reigned in the Shoot-Out Contest of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup yesterday at the Philippine Arena here.

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The former Centro Escolar University standout bested three other participants to win the side event.

The 25-year-old Pontejos tallied 14 points in the single-round finals where she buried eight consecutive shots bridging the second and third racks before nailing two of the last three balls of the bonus rack worth two points.

Alexandra Stolyar of Russia’s women’s team also made 14 points, but Pontejos claimed the gold medal being the quickest to do so.

She did her round in 41.86 seconds to her opponent’s 49.92 seconds.

The bronze medal went to Marin’s Hrvoje of the Croatia’s men’s team since the finalists came from the top two of the men’s and women’s divisions of this event the Philippines hosted for the first time.

“After what happened to the national team, I really want to win a medal for our country… this is for the Philippines. I’m blessed to win the gold medal, I’m thankful to God,” said Pontejos.

Meantime, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is keen on laying out the blueprint to ensure better results for the country in the FIBA 3×3 tournaments, including qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

SBP President Al Panlilio said that the SBP will meet next week to discuss not only the country’s successful hosting of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup at the Philippine Arena here, but more importantly, the participation of the national team in both the men’s and women’s categories.

“This tournament showed how important 3×3 is to the SBP, especially now the national team competed against the top teams in the world. It’s unfortunate that we fell short,” said Panlilio, trying his best to keep things in perspective.

“This event opened the minds on really creating a different road map for the 3×3 that is separate from our Gilas Pilipinas (5-on-5). Now we want to bring the level up because skills wise we are there.”

The men’s team of coach Ronnie Magsanoc fell short on its bid to advance in the quarterfinal round as it finished with a 2-2 card in Pool C of the elimination round. Meanwhile, the women’s squad of coach Pat Aquino ended up empty-handed after four tries in Pool D.

However, the biggest takeaway in the tournament was the way the Filipinos competed against the top caliber teams in the world, like when the men’s team – seeded 19th – defeated No. 3 Russia, 19-12, and No. 6 Brazil, 15-7.

The setbacks against No. 11 Mongolia (21-17) and No. 14 Canada (20-19) were decided in the final moments of the game, but the lack of experience of regularly playing in 3×3 event factored the results.

The same goes for the 20th seeded national women’s team, which lost to No. 4 Netherlands (21-11) but almost knocked higher ranked teams, No. 3 Hungary (18-15), No. 11 Germany (12-10) and No. 12 Spain (21-17).

“It’s a different game (as compared to the 5-on-5),” said Panlilio, adding that the next big tournament for the 3×3 is the qualifying events for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.