James Harden and Eric Gordon got a taste of Filipino streetball at its finest yesterday (July 28) at the Finals of NBA3X Philippines 2013 presented by Sprite at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Tent.
The ultimate competitions of the three-day three-on-three basketball tournament – which drew 60,000 fans over three days at the double venue -- was moved to the PICC from the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall Sunday afternoon on account of the rain.
Little boys not quite five feet who were members of the RP Team Thirteen Under and wowed the NBA stars as they heaved shots from two-point country in the U13 division. The very young players of the RP Team were only good for a runner up finish, but their ease with the basketball impressed the NBA talents and the avid basketball crowd.
From the tipoff last Friday until Sunday, NBA players James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans graced the events and interacted with Pinoy basketball fans together with the Indiana Pacemates and Grizz, the mascot of the Memphis Grizzlies. Harden and Gordon signed giveaways and threw them to the crowd, getting squeals of delight from the basketball-loving Pinoys.
Games featuring media and entertainment celebrities kicked off the Sunday event at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall, with SM MOA fans liking the basketball grit and savvy of stars they only see on TV. Team Alcaraz, made up of GMA players Marco Alcaraz, Ervic Vijandre, Jose Sarasola and Jack Corpuz ruled the Celebrity division.
The Women's Under-16 division meanwhile was won by Team CAYS composed of Alexis Aguirre, Leezah Sorallo, Mae Ann Herradura and Jeivie Nama. The National University Lady Bulldogs quartet of Nica Villegas, Jack Danielle Animam, Ana Del Rosario and Kimberly Illut won the U18 division over the JASMS Patriots who failed to show up for the match. The Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws -- Mary Angeli Cabochan, Allana May Lim, Marilourd Borja and Karen Columna -- prevailed over Team Mickey, made up mostly of former UP Lady Maroons, in the Girls’ Open, 8-4.
The most exciting game in the Boys' division was the U-13 Finals game won by Escuela de Sophia-1 composed of Saymond Male, Andrei Cariato, Nelle Suminig and Christopher Perio. Their match against RP Thirteen Under went into overtime, as the littlest RP Thirteen Under player connected on a long distance 2-pointer, sending James Harden to his feet due to the excitement.
In the Under-16 division, the triumvirate of former Jr. NBA standout Jan Gabriel Sobrevega, Peter John Rabor and Astrolave Vista of University of Saint La Salle Bacolod dominated the Conquerors, 18-13.
AMA JRS dominated CKSC Blazing Dragons in convincing fashion, 20-7. to take home the Under-18 division crown. The champion team is composed of Clark Quijano, Jayson David, Russel Fuentes and Michael Perez. Besides their prizes for winning the division, the group earned a slot in the Adidas D-Rose Tour series of events on Septmber 15-16 including the D-Rose Tour 3-on-3 Frand Finals. The players will be given Adidas apparel and D-Rose footwear as part of their participation in the D-Rose Tour 3-on-3 Grand Finals.
The Men's Open division finals meanwhile was played between amateur basketball players who were former teammates during their college days. The underdogs EGS Elite pulled a stunner on the favored Blackwater Elite, 21-18. EGS, composed of former NCAA players Rocky Acidre, Mark Doligon and Acidre's younger brother Rutger, overcame Blackwater, the recently crowned champions of the 2013 PBA Developmental League Foundation Cup (D League) composed of Gio Ciriacruz, Robby Celiz, Bacon Austria and Louie Vigil.
NBA 3X 2013 Philippines presented by Sprite was also highlighted by an NBA Cares Activity for Special Olympic Athletes. Eric Gordon, Jr. NBA Head Coach Sefu Bernard and the Indiana Pacemates treated the kids to fun basketball games and drills. Jr. NBA All Stars Alumni dropped by and got the chance to meet Harden and Gordon up close and personal.
Fan activities at the event like the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest; the Sprite Basketball Clinic; the KFC Bucket 3-point Shootout; the Phoenix Fast Feet Challenge and NBA Half Time enabled fans to join in the fun as well. The PBA’s Tower of Power and only Rookie-MVP Benjie Paras and becoming-just-as-illustrious son Kobe Paras dropped by and caused a happy commotion.
A lucky division champion will win tickets to the 2013 NBA Global Games on October 10, featuring the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers in a preseason match at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. The identity of the winning division champions will be announced later.