SBP-Smart 3x3 Tournament holds first leg at the Meralco Orange Fit Center


By John Mark Herrera - Published April 2, 2019

The thrill in playing the newest Filipino hoop craze is now reachable for anyone who aspires to bring their game on the 3x3 stage. Thanks to Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP), led by national program head- Coach Ronnie Magsanoc, together with Smart Communications, and Torch, the recently concluded SBP-Smart 3x3 Tournament became a success.

24 elite teams came together for yet another day of 3x3 basketball last March 30, 2019 (Saturday) at the Meralco Orange Fit Center in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Gian Abrigo and Carlo Escalambre led KOTC|STR8 x FRONTROW's campaign in the SBP-SMart 3x3 Tournament 2019.

The hoop junkie nation that we are, from the streets to the hardwood, this is where it all begins; the most basic and highly physical form of scrimmage. As such, Kings of the Court|STR8, together with FRONTROW- fielded two competitive teams in this one-day tournament.

Participating teams were divided into four brackets of six competing troops each, where they will play five elimination games and the top team from each bracket will advance to the knockout semifinal stage.

KOTC|STR8 x FRONTROW was composed of former University of Sto. Tomas guard, Carlo Escalambre, who was also seen action in the PBA D-League with the AMA Titans and former Adamson Falcon and currently player for the Mandaluyong El Tigre, Gian Abrigo. Joining the two combo guards are former N.U. Bullpup standout, JP Cauilan and Abrigo's fellow El Tigre, Jojo Cunanan.

The Catacutan brothers led Kings of the Court|STR8's campaign in the SBP-SMart 3x3 Tournament 2019.

Kings of the Court|STR8 was composed of some Knights Division mainstays led by Reynaldo Mutia, along with the brothers Mark Catacutan, Stephen Catacutan, and Israel Catacutan.

Both teams showed flashes of brilliance and fought a gallant stand against towering and lightning quick opponents in the elimination round, as the President and Founder- Cholo Legisma watched while they competed. KOTC|STR8 x FRONTROW was ranked third in their group, while Kings of the Court|STR8 finished the competition on a high note, with a 3-2 record in their campaign.

Being in the same tournament as the likes of former and current basketball stars in the coutry, like Josef Sedurifa (CEU, Meralco Bolts) Sam Marata (DLSU/UP,San Miguel Beermen), Will Gozum (UP), Tonino Gonzaga (former ADMU capt.), RJ Deles (CSB) and Francis Munsayac (EAC), it was a tall task to go toe-to-toe with these perennial names.

But as Philippine basketball legend, Ramon "El Presidente" Fernandez once said, "You are as good as your opponent.” Indeed, nothing was predictable in this tourney. Catacutan and co. edged the FEU Baby Tamaraws in their fourth outing, after a thrilling OT win, to pull-off a shocker and leave a lasting impression.

All-around players. Catacutan and Cunanan represented their teams with pride and fought each battle with 100% effort.

With so much experience gained after their campaign, Mark Catacutan knows that their stint in the SBP-Smart 3x3 Tournament 2019, is going to make them better as players. "Mataas yung level ng competition, malalakas din talaga. Kailangan mo mag prepare ng mahaba, extra effort sa bawat play eh. Yung physicality mabigat, adjustment is key, kailangan din maayos yung communication sa loob, mahalaga mag usap."

Stacked with so much experience in the previous leagues he had set foot, Gian Abrigo shared that the 3x3 competition is a different animal, in terms of the level of play and the proper mindset that a player must have, coming in to an elite tournament. "Dito talagang physical. Kailangan matatag yung endurance mo as a player. Sa ganitong competition, nagsasama sama yung mga best players, so kailangan handa ka. Magandang challenge, kaya ang goal namin siyempre, mag champion."

Crowned as the champion of the tournament, Team UP 2.0- Torch, led by former Ateneo Blue Eagles captain Tonino Gonzaga and Meralco Bolt, Josef Sedurifa cruised past the Will Gozum-led UP Fighting Maroons, 21-10 to complete their tournament sweep.

Mutual support in every league. Coach Ronnie Magsanoc (top-center), Coach Xavi Nunag (lower left), and Cholo Legisma (upper right).

Making waves in the global basketball scene in just a short span of time, the new outlet for the sport offers an opportunity for countries like the Philippines, to make a return in the Tokyo Olympics this 2020. A whole year of opportunities and an entire group of regions helping the national program's cause, Coach Ronnie Magsanoc, Coach Xavier Nunag and the rest of the SBP program team, with the help of league organizers in the likes of Kings of the Court|STR8, it is with great honor that is humbly submitted, the future of this competition is in good hands.