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‘Tatluhan’ finals set tomorrow

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) highlights its focus on the grassroots this week when it holds the National Pambansang Tatluhan finals on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Music Hall.

A total of 32 teams, 16 in the boys division and another 16 in the distaff side, are seeing action in the whole-day event featuring players aged 16-and-under coming from all over the country.

Naturalized player Andray Blatche will be making a special appearance in the short opening ceremony at 11 a.m., although games are to be played as early as 7 a.m.

“Andray (Blatche) will make a special appearance. He contacted me to have an emersion program with the Filipino youth,” said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate on Tuesday.

A large number of 584 teams saw action in the qualifiers, according to Barrios, who himself was surprised the competition was able to draw 16 squads in the girls division.

“It’s a pleasant surprise na naka-16 na finalists kami sa girls (division). Maraming sumali. Akala namin walo lang ang papasok,” he said in the same forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Accel, Shakey’s, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).

The event comes almost a month before the country hosts the Manila leg of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Barrios said the 3×3 tournament is among the things where the SBP is trying to focus its attention along with grassroots development and women’s basketball.

The tournament is likewise a prelude to the country’s hosting of the 2018 FIBA 3×3 world championships.

The SBP executive said the country had to pass the hosting chore of the world meet this year owing to the Olympic qualifier, while it gave way to Qatar to stage the tournament in 2017.