By Brian Yalung
The country’s campaign in the 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup that ended last Monday at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue was not futile after all as Janine Pontejos stood taller than her touted rivals to rule the Shoot-Out contest.
Her title win was a historic one.
The 25-year-old out of Centro Escolar University (CEU) was not targeting anything and was simply there because she was selected to represent the Philippines aside being part of the 3×3 team.
“Wala po ako tinarget na kahit ano. Ang inisip ko lang po basta sasali lang ako sa shoot out. Ako lang yung ni-lineup para dun,” said Janine in an exclusive interview.
Pontejos wowed the crowd with her marksmanship, hitting 12 shots overall that included 2-bonus balls for a total of 14 points. She ended up with the same output as Russia’s Alexandra Stolyar. Janine won by virtue of finishing her run faster at 41.86 seconds compared to Stolyar’s time of 49.92.
“Iniisip ko lang po kailangan ma-shoot ko mga tira ko. Kasi ang daming tao nanunuod sa akin. Nakakahiya kung di ko ma-shoot mga tira ko. Tapos kahit makakuha man lang ako ng bronze, basta may medal para sa Pilipinas,” said Janine.
And she did it with flourish, thus proving her critics wrong.
“Wala po ako pakialam kung papano nila ko maliitin o laitin sa kung anong meron ako. Performance naman po ang labanan. Kaya papakita ko na lang po kung bakit ako nandun,” said Pontejos.
For Janine, the feat not only becomes a personal accolade as she hopes it helps boost the recognition for women’s basketball in the country.
“Sobrang saya ko po. Ito po ang kauna-unahang award na nakuha ko sa international. Mas lalo po ako na-inspire na mag trabaho para sa bayan. At siguro mas makikilala na yung womens basketball ng PH sa nagawa ko,” she said.
Meantime, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio is convinced the country has plenty of opportunities of sending a squad in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
And Panlilio hopes to explore those possibilities this early.
For the first time in Olympic history, 3×3 will be included in the Tokyo Games and local officials are hoping to send a formidable squad to the quadrennial event.
“We at the SBP need to discuss the next steps with that in mind,” said Panlilio yesterday.
SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios said that there are two crucial things to consider for the country to get to Tokyo, first is the world ranking of the Philippines and second is via qualifying meets.
The ranking is based on the grassroots program of a country as FIBA monitors tournaments.
To earn points, the country should see action in the 3×3 World Tour and 3×3 Challengers. At the moment, the men’s team is ranked 59th in the world while the women’s team at 48th spot.
There are only eight slots – or eight teams per division – for the Tokyo Olympics, and the top five ranked 3×3 teams in the world will gain outright entry. The three remaining slots will come from the qualifiers. (with a report from Waylon Galvez)