by Waylon Galvez
The national 3×3 team, led by collegiate standout Ricci Rivero, faces a rough sailing as it opens its campaign today in the FIBA 3×3 Under-23 World Cup in Xi’An, China.
The national team, ranked No. 47 in the world, takes on No. 1 Serbia and No. 7 Slovenia in Pool C action before facing No. 15 Turkmenistan and eighth ranked host China tomorrow.
“SBP is determined to increase the popularity of 3×3 in our country,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio, who traveled with the team with SBP Special Assistant to the President Ryan Gregorio.
“Aside from establishing and strongly pushing for local 3×3 tournaments, we are also just starting to actively participate in international competitions with the goal of getting the necessary experience and at the same time improve on our world ranking which is currently pegged at No. 47.”
“It’s a commitment for SBP, to continuously push for a solid 3×3 program and to execute an efficient roadmap heading to the Olympics in 2020 and beyond,” added Panlilio.
Aside from Rivero, other members of the team are Jeepy Faundo of University of Santo Tomas University, and juniors players RJ Abarriento of Far Eastern University and Rhayyan Amsali of San Beda.
Rivero’s last 3×3 tournament was in the FIBA 3×3 Under-18 World Cup in 2015 where he played with Kobe Paras, Mike Nieto and Richard Escoto.
The top two teams in each of the four groups will advance to the quarterfinal round.
Coach Ronnie Magsanoc, who will be assisted by Xavy Nunag, said they are ready to take on the best of the world.
“We are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament but we want to compete with the best in the world,” Magsanoc said.