Season 80 3X3 basketball set March 4; UST men's team an absentee

MANILA, Philippine – The UAAP, through the initiative of Season 80 host Far Eastern University, officially launched the first-ever UAAP 3X3 basketball tournament in a press conference at the Capitol Commons in Pasig, Thursday, March 1.

The men’s and women’s tournaments will both be held on Saturday, March 4, in the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall.

With top league officials in attendance such as Commissioner and Executive Director Rene “Rebo” Saguisag, Jr. and FEU athletics head Mark Molina, the league welcomed the launch of the new 3-on-3 variation which was recently added as an Olympic sport.

Seven schools in the league fielded 4 representatives each for the men’s and women’s tournaments, with the exception of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) which only elected to send a women’s team.

In his opening remarks, Saguisag likened the 3-on-3 game to the larong kanto (local pickups) that can be found in almost every corner of the country wherever a basketball ring can be found.

“Even before I played 5-on-5 basketball, tatluhan lang naman talaga 'yung laban namin ‘eh,” he said. (“…3-on-3 was really how we played.”) “It was a rite of passage. Manhood was measured by how good you were on the basketball court.”

Molina likewise added, “When 3-on-3 was announced to be an Olympic sport [for] 2020, it was something we wanted to push by FEU this year and eventually, hopefully, by the entire UAAP.”

A few schools have already been penciled in as early favorites after the 3X3 rosters were released. These include the University of the Philippines who fielded the Gomez de Liano brothers and Jun Manzo along with Gelo Vito and De La Salle University who will be represented by Aljun Melecio, Andrei Caracut, Santi Santillan and Justine Baltazar. Gilas 2023 pool member Juan GDL was also the country’s representative in the FIBA 3X3 Under-18 World Cup in Chengdu, China.

Meanwhile, the outcome of the women’s tournament will likely mirror the original 5-on-5 tournament, with powerhouse National University set to field Season 78 MVP Afril Bernardino and Season 80 MVP Jack Animam in its team.

As for UST, both Saguisag and Molina were not given a reason as to why there were no men’s representatives. Despite that, the league commissioner respected their decision and hoped UST would join the Season 81 tournament.

“We respect naman kung talagang hindi sila ready,” he said. (...they may not be ready.)

Rappler Sports has reached out to newly-appointed UST head coach Aldin Ayo for comment, but has received no reply as of press time. – Rappler.com