MANILA, Philippines – When the boys promised to do their best and take the Philippine flag a notch higher than last year's 7th finish in the FIBA 3x3 Under-18 World Cup, they were serious about fulfilling it.
After 4 games, the Philippines managed to stay in the light of things and ended the eliminations round with a 3-1 win-loss record.
The squad of John Ariel Edu, Rhayyan Amsali, Florencio Serrano, and Juan Gomez de Liano made history as they are the first Philippine team in the FIBA 3x3 tournament to earn a slot in the quarterfinals.
"Everyone is just so proud to be part of history!" said coach Anton Altamirano, who is with team competing team in Chengdu, China, in an interview via WeChat on Saturday, July 1.
"Our mindset was to make it as far as we can. Beating Isreal started it all because if we've not won that game, we could've lost the opportunity to reach the quarterfinals."
The Philippines lost to last year's top ranked Netherlands in the elims which protected a flawless 4-0 card in the tourney.
The Philippines will be playing against Belgium – who's also unbeaten in the tournament – on Sunday at 2:30 pm.
Team Philippines also shone bright on day 3 in the global stage as they were FIBA's Team of the Day.
Coach Altamirano's gameplan for Sunday's match is simple, "The team has to play together. They have to play through their strengths."
When asked what their competitive edge against Belgium is, coach Altamirano said, "The Filipino heart. Just pure desire to make the impossible possible."
"We lack height but the boys just never give up and never back down to any challenge."
Aside from clinching a spot in the quarterfinals, the Philippines' bet Serrano also made it to the finals of the Dunk Contest which is bound to happen on the last day of the event at 7:30 pm.
Serrano will be competing against China, Belgium and Slovenia. – Rappler.com