By Jonas Terrado
The Philippines ruled the inaugural men’s and women’s 3×3 competitions with convincing victories Monday in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at The Arena in San Juan.
PBA players CJ Perez, Mo Tautuaa, Chris Newsome and Jason Perkins downed Indonesia 21-9 for the men’s gold while Afril Bernardino, Jack Animam, Janine Pontejos and Clare Castro exacted revenge on Thailand 17-13 to rule the distaff side.
Both teams had contrasting runs to the gold, with the men’s squad winning all eight matches and the women’s side having to overcome losing to Thailand in overtime 22-20 during the last game of the preliminaries.
Playing the starring roles in the finals were Perez and Bernardino, who dazzled the predominantly Filipino crowd with their individual plays.
Perez, rookie star of the Columbian Dyip, scored nine points, including a right-handed dunk over an Indonesian defender that brought the house down.
His performance was perhaps a fitting conclusion to a memorable 2019 for Perez, who aside from emerging as one of the strong candidates for the PBA Rookie of the Year but also made a strong impression for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup in China.
Bernardino made majority of her 10 points by the attacking lane as the Philippines was able to take control after trailing for the final time at 5-4.
Behind Bernardino, the Philippines bagged its first gold in any women’s basketball competitions of the biennial meet.
A historic gold in the standard five-on-five event will be doubly sweet for the national cagebelles, who will start their campaign on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.