3-on-3 hoops is a Pinoy game
For those who grew up with basketball, tatluhan or three-on-three hoops evokes memories of games played on a makeshift court or, if one were lucky, on the undisturbed half of a real court. Filipinos may not have invented the format but we were the ones who turned it into a popular subculture, a natural response to the lack of space to express our deep love for the sport.
Growing up near the border of Sta. Cruz and Tondo in Manila, I had my share of all-day games of tatluhan on an asphalt street court. Mornings were too early and subsequently too hot for a full-court game and you had to wear rubber shoes for that. For tatluhan, being in reliable rubber tsinelas (slippers) was enough. If a strap bolted out of place after your drive, there was always somebody along the sideline willing to share a slipper.
The simplicity of the format—usually a game of first to score 12—demanded a high level of play because losing meant lost playing time on the court. We sometimes played for soda pop, water or ice candy, a frozen concoction. Nobody wanted to lose.
As the Fiba World 3×3 visits our shores this June 8 to 12, the home team doesn’t want to lose that easily as well to the seemingly favored competition. Philippines head coach Ronnie Magasnoc, one of the PBA’s 25 greatest players and a champion mentor as well, wants the team to have a winning mind-set especially since the games will be on our soil.
“We are looking forward to being competitive,” says Magsanoc, currently an assistant coach with the Meralco Bolts. He has already begun to scout online the opponents the Philippines is grouped with. “Many of the teams are already playing in some international competitions,” Magsanoc adds.
There’s some catching up to do and getting the players together for practice is one of the major challenges. The selected players have commitments to their PBA teams. Getting the team ready for the unique nuances of the 3-on-3 format and to establish teamwork are priorities.
International 3-on-3 rules will have to be mastered too. For example, teams win either by reaching 21 points first or by being ahead after 10 minutes. Magsanoc feels that the home squad has a fair chance. “We won’t have to deal with too many big men in the format,” Magsanoc explains, “Teams will put a premium on quickness and speed, which the guards will provide.”
Magsanoc currently has RR Pogoy and Stanley Pringle for speed, hustle and scoring, Troy Rosario for height and shooting and Christian Stanhardinger for inside action. If the team can get some time together, they should be competitive in a format Filipinos know and love.
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