DLSU, UST seek 'double'; HS 3x3 now a regular sport

DLSU, UST seek 'double'; HS 3x3 now a regular sport

DLSU, UST seek 'double'; HS 3x3 now a regular sport

The UAAP 3x3 Basketball Tournament will be back playing inside a mall. Ayala Malls Manila Bay's Activity Center will host the UAAP Season 86 3x3 Basketball Tournament starting today (Thursday) until Sunday.

For the first time, all four divisions will be a regular event for the halfcourt game with the boys' and girls' divisions set from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. followed by the men's and women's games from 1:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Unlike past seasons, the 3x3 tournament will have a single round robin format with the top four teams in the men's, women's, and boys' divisions advancing to the knockout semifinals on Sunday. In the girls' division, the top two teams will advance to the final.

Defending champion De La Salle University will eye a back-to-back in this tournament.

The Osmund Ng-coached Green Archers will be led by reigning tournament Most Valuable Player CJ Austria and Joshua David.

"I'm really excited kasi we are the defending champions," said third-year guard Austria. "Sa 3x3 namin nakuha ang kumpyansa namin para makuha rin yung 5-on-5."

Joining Austria and David are 6-foot-4 EJ Abadam, 6-foot-4 Jonnel Policarpio, and reserve 6-foot-5 Aaron Buensalida.

"Malaking bagay sa amin na halos same height kaming lahat kasi sa 3x3, you have to switch everything. Tapos may chemistry na rin kami," added Austria.

The league will allow four players to play and have one injury reserve for the four-day tournament.

La Salle will open its campaign against last season's third-placer National University, which will have Steve Nash Enriquez, Jake Figueroa, Jolo Manansala, and Joe Gulapa as its quartet, at 3:00 p.m. and against University of the East, which lined up Jack Cruz-Dumont, Ethan Galang, Ryzel Gibuena, and Welo Lingo-Lingo for the tournament.

University of the Philippines will look to bounce back from a fourth-place finish last season at CaSoBē, fielding Season 85 5-on-5 Rookie of the Year Francis Lopez, Harold Alarcon, Janjan Felicilda, and Mark Belmonte.

The Fighting Maroons face the Ateneo Blue Eagle quartet of Andre Tan, Xavier Tanjangco, Alonzo Luna, and Javier Adevoso at 4:00 p.m. followed by Adamson Soaring Falcons' Ray Allen Torres, Emman Anabo, Flever Dignadice, and Kenji Canete at 6:00 p.m.

Season 84 champion University of Santo Tomas will be led by Nic Cabanero and will have SJ Moore, Mark Crisostomo, and Kendall Valentin as his teammates while the Mau Belen-coached Far Eastern University chose Jorick Bautista, Luke Felipe, Rojan Montemayor, Aeron Bagunu, and Leyton Buenaventura as its five.

On the women's side, the Growling Tigresses will look to have a Season 85 'double' and back-to-back crowns in the event, bringing back Tantoy Ferrer, Ana Tacatac, and Rocel Dionisio while adding Kent Pastrana to the fold.

Last season, UST ended NU's unbeaten run in the sport, via an 18-11 decision in the final.

According to Growling Tigresses head coach Haydee Ong, beating the Lady Bulldogs in the 3x3 tournament made them believe they could do so in the 5-on-5 realm, which they did by winning an epic three-game series last December.

"Last season's triumphant victory over the three-time 3x3 champion NU was definitely a pivotal moment for the UST Tigresses. It is a testament to our program, showcasing our resilience and grit in the face of daunting odds. It served as a reminder that even the seemingly invincible can be conquered by finding the right formula," said Ong.

"Sure, there will be challenges along the way, but our mantra, BTS (Believe, Trust, Surrender), will always remain steadfast, alongside discipline and mental toughness in defending the 3x3 crown. We can draw strength from our past achievements, and I always remind the team that they have what it takes to succeed as long as they stay united and dedicated to our goals."

UST will take on FEU's Mikee Antonio, Maxene Dela Torre, Mary Manguiat, and Rea Ong at 2:20 p.m. followed by UP's Kaye Pesquera, Achrissa Maw, Christie Bariquit, and Marielle Vingno at 4:20 p.m. of Day 1.

NU's redeem team will be composed of Ann Pingol, Angel Surada, Tin Cayabyab, and Aloha Betanio and will face Adamson's Cheska Apag, Elaine Etang, Angela Alaba, and April Tano (2:00 p.m.) and La Salle's Lee Sario, Bettina Binaohan, Luisa San Juan, and Ann Mendoza (4:40 p.m.) on opening day.

Far Eastern University-Diliman and National University Nazareth School, on the other hand, look to defend their respective boys' and girls' titles.

The Baby Tamaraws will be led by Veejay Pre, Dwyne Miranda, Jedric Daa, and Omar Gordon while the Lady Bullpups will still have the duo Cielo Pagdulagan, BJ Villarin, and Nicole Villanueva, along with Nicole Pring and Christina Lapasaran.

"It's a mission for me now to coach the next generation of 3x3 players. From last year na takot ako how players will receive me and the sport sa high school at collegiate ranks na ngayon, together with my high school team our mission, is to defend the championship as hard as we can, I would say we’ve really come a long way. Having the core of last season's team will definitely help us maintain our winning edge," said FEU head coach Mau Belen, the most decorated PBA 3x3 head coach.

“I strongly believe that 3x3 basketball will play a big part in our quest to Olympic and World Cup medals pagdating sa basketball. Kailangan lang ng long-term plan and dedicated people around it.”

"Now that the UAAP has included 3x3 Girls as a regular event, this marks another milestone and success for women's basketball. What brings us even greater joy is the prospect of more competitive tournaments on the horizon," said Lady Bullpups head coach Camilla Escoto.

"Currently, we are practicing with our women's 3x3 team to prepare. There's no room for complacency, and we want to seize this opportunity to showcase girls' basketball as a thrilling and competitive sport."

Reigning 5-on-5 champion Adamson initially wanted to field its seniors Tebol Garcia, Vince Reyes, Carlo Bonzalida, and Gene Carillo to have one last dance in the tournament.

"They committed (to their college teams) too early, and now I can't ask them to play since they are no longer practicing with us," lamented Baby Falcons head coach Mike Fermin.

The Baby Falcons will instead field the four of Mark Esperanza, Earl Medina, Jose Tumabang, and Zahir Sajili.

"We have to move on and do our best to win this tournament," added Fermin.

All eight schools will compete in the boys' division while joining NUNS are Adamson, UST, De La Salle-Zobel, and Ateneo.