Drawing inspiration from its recent Philippine Cup victory, TNT’s three-a-side crew pulled out all the stops to prevail over sister team Meralco and tab the first leg of the PBA’s inaugural 3×3 tournament on Sunday night at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Filipino-American Jeremiah Gray hit one tough shot after another before Almond Vosotros’ freebie that sealed the deal, 21-18, and gave the club ultimate bragging rights as the first-ever winner of the league’s latest attraction.
“I think it’s just right to continue what our 5×5 team started,” Mau Belen, TNT’s assistant coach who was tasked to call the shots for the specialized squad that also features Lervin Flores and Samboy de Leon, told the Inquirer.
“The first leg was grueling, but worth every ounce of [energy],” she went on.
TNT swept all of its Pool A contests, all the way to the knockout stage, including the you-or-me finalé worth P100,000.
On top of those victories, Belen also notched a personal milestone—of “being visible” for many aspiring female coaches—which she has been hoping to hit since being reeled into the franchise by comebacking mentor Chot Reyes.
New acquisition for TNT
Meanwhile, TNT’s main squad is stocking up on weapons in its bid for a sweep of the season by signing sharpshooting Gab Banal, who last played for Alaska in the last All-Filipino conference, where he shot a league-best 45.2 percent from three-point range.
Banal, a second-generation talent, will be a deadly addition to an already potent Tropang Giga squad that also has snipers Roger Pogoy and rookie scoring dynamo Mikey Williams.
In related news, commissioner Willie Marcial said that the league has expanded its prospective venues for the future by adding San Juan City to its list.
“We’re expanding our options. I know that [FilOil Flying V Centre] is currently being used as a vaccination site, but we’re just securing permissions that should come in handy in the long run,” he told the Inquirer also on Monday.
The league chief was not yet able to give any definitive date for the season-ending Governors’ Cup, owing to the slow arrival of imports. INQ
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