By Jun Ray Navarres
Mongolians topped 11th edition of NBA 3X Philippines Invitational, toppling foes from Japan, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand both in men’s and women’s division, last December 9-10 at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall in Pasay.
Both teams showcased pure class in front of NBA Champion Richard “Rip” Hamilton and the Filipino fans as they dominated the tournament.
The men’s team of Ulaanbaatar Energy edged out MCFASolver Tech Centrale of the host country, 21-18 while the women’s team of Ulaanbaatar Amazons outlasted Japan’s Team Sakura Funabayashi, 16-6.
“It was wonderful because it is my first time being in the Philippines, I really like it here. On top of being the champion of the first NBA 3X [Philippines] Invitational, it was a special weekend. The people supporting and watching were really nice too,” said Amazons’ Khulan Onolbataar.
Meanwhile, Temuulen Chingis of the men’s Mongolian team was caught off guard by the Filipino’s passion and enthusiasm towards the sport.
“Three days ago, my brother told me Filipino fans are crazy. When he told me that, I didn’t believe it, but when I got here, I believed it. The energy and support we’ve received is crazy,” shared Chingis.
Aside from the 3-on-3 showdown, different events were also prepared such as the celebrity 5-on-5 tournament, Jr. NBA Philippines alumni exhibition game, on-court activities from the sponsors, and the return of NBA Iconic Shots Challenge.
Also, Team TITANS of Philippine National team standouts Chack Cabinbin and Janine Pontejos defeated Migs Bustos and Martin Javier’s Team Lakers, 55-47 in the Celebrity Division.
The weekend was capped with a watch party for the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship between the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers.
Hamilton was surprised with the intensity of the games and the support of the Filipino fans to the event.
“What I realized is, the basketball being played here is very physical, and that kind of reminds me of my time playing with the Pistons. On behalf of myself and the NBA, I’m happy to be here,” shared Hamilton.
“The league is not built on the players, it’s built on the fans. And a lot of that is because of you all.”
Featured photo courtesy of NBA 3X
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