PHL dribblers open defense of 3×3 crown

HANOI—The campaign to post another sweep of the basketball gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games begin on Friday as 3×3 action kicks off at the Thanh Tri Gymnasium.

Limitless App, winner of the Philippine Basketball Association 3×3 First Conference, stakes its mettle starting at 11 a.m. (12 noon Manila) against Cambodia, followed by games against Thailand at 2 p.m. and Indonesia at 4:20 p.m.

The team is composed of Brandon Rosser, Marvin Hayes, Jorey Napoles and Raymar Caduyac. Their task is to match the gold CJ Perez, Mo Tautuaa, Jason Perkins and Chris Newsome won in the Philippines 2019 SEA Games.

The women’s squad, on the other hand, faces Cambodia at 12 noon (1 p.m. Manila), Vietnam at 3 p.m. and Thailand at 5:20 p.m.

Janine Pontejos, Clare Castro and Afril Bernardino are back to defend the women’s crown with Angelica Marie Surada as the newcomer in the team.

The Philippines swept the 3×3 tournament in 2019, with the men’s team beating Indonesia and the women’s squad outlasting Thailand in the finals.

But the two coaches who supervised the preparations said retaining the gold medals will be more difficult this time.

“The other teams revamped their lineup and they also have the players from other countries. They do the same thing as the Philippines,” men’s coach Willie Wilson said.

“I think they are prepared to defend the crown,” women’s coach Pat Aquino said. “About the other teams, they prepared especially Vietnam. I expect stiff competition from them.”

The preliminary round will continue on Saturday with the top four teams advancing to the semifinals, with the winners advancing to the gold medal match.

Action in regular basketball gets going on March 16, with the men’s and women’s squads primed up to retain the crowns they won in 2019, both against Thailand in the finals.