By Waylon Galvez
Action in the 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup gets going today at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan but Team Philippines won’t take center stage in earnest, giving Fil-German big man Christian Standhardinger enough time to rest and recuperate from his nagging knee injury.
The 6-foot-8 Standhardinger continues to deal with patellofemoral pain syndrome and an iliotibial band syndrome on his left knee, but nonetheless assured he will be ready to suit up when the Philippines takes on Brazil at 3:10 p.m and Mongolia at 6:40 p.m. in Group C tomorrow.
“I’ll do everything in my power to play in the 3×3. That’s very important to me,” said the San Miguel Beer center, the top overall pick in last year’s draft who opted to sit out the Beermen’s last two matches as part of his recovery period for the most prestigious 3×3 event which the country will host for the first time.
GlobalPort star guard Stanley Pringle and TNT KaTropa duo of Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy will team up with Standhardinger for the Team Philippines, which will also collide with Canada and Russia on June 11, a day before the event’s knockout stage.
“We’re ready, we’re all excited,” said former pro league star Ronnie Magsanoc, tapped to serve as the national coach. “We know it’s going to be tough because we’ll be facing teams that have been competing in this type of tournament the past three, five years.”
“But it’s not an excuse, the preparation time we had for this tournament. Considering these players are playing in the PBA, but they’re committed to compete for flag and country,” he added.
The country’s best finish in the event was ninth, which marked the first time the national team of Mac Belo, Russel Escoto, Karl Dehesa and Glen Khobuntin qualified in the World Cup in 2016 in Guangzhou, China.
Last year in Nantes, France, the team of Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, Kobe Paras and JR Quiñahan finished 11th overall.
Only the top two teams per group will advance in the quarterfinal round set Tuesday.
Defending two-time champion Serbia, which also won the inaugural 3×3 in 2012, will face off with the Netherlands, Romania, New Zealand and Kyrgyzstan in Group A of the opening round.
Bracketed in Group B are Slovenia, Poland, Estonia, Japan and Ecuador while in Group D are Latvia, Ukraine, Croatia, Jordan and Nigeria. The USA team will not be sending a men’s team.
As for the women’s category, the national team likewise has a tough bracket in Group D as it draws the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Hungary, runner-up to three-time champion Russia last year.