Mighty PH grabs 2-0 lead over Indonesia in FIBA Esports Open

MANILA, Philippines – From real life to virtual basketball, the Philippines proves too much for Indonesia.

That was in full display in the inaugural FIBA Esports Open as Team Pilipinas ripped Indonesia to pieces by a combined 61 points in the first two games of their best-of-five series on Friday, June 19. 

Point guard Aljon "Shintarou" Cruzin shone the brightest for the Philippines after posting 22 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds in the 56-29 Game 1 win and 23 points and 4 rebounds in the 64-30 Game 2 triumph.

Cruzin ran roughshod over Indonesia, catching his defenders off guard with his nifty dribble moves to either attack the basket or shoot an open three-pointer.

His best play of Day 1 came at the end of Game 1 after he pulled off a double crossover and slammed home a ferocious dunk over two Indonesia big men. 

Team Pilipinas struggled early in Game 2 and fell to a 9-12 deficit but managed to turn the tides late in the first half behind the defense of small forward Custer "Aguila" Galas, a former NBA 2K Asia Tournament champion.

Creating an avatar that resembled four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallance, Galas served as the defensive anchor for the Philippines as he finished with 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. 

Going into the final quarter of Game 2, Team Pilipinas already built an insurmountable 42-18 lead en route to the 34-point victory. 

"From the start, the order for us was shoot to kill, from the first quarter to the fourth quarter," team captain Philippe "Izzo" Alcaraz Herrero IV, who had 3 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals in Game 2, said in Filipino. 

Power forward Clark "Clark" Banzon had 11 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals in Game 2, while shooting guard Rial "Rial" Polog Jr added 10 points, 4 assists, and 4 steals in the win. 

The games were played in the ProAm mode of NBA 2K with five-minute quarters.

Team Pilipinas will play Indonesia for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday, June 20. – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.