The Philippines came just a little short in the first-ever Chooks-to-Go 3x3 Asia Pacific Super Quest after the 1Bataan Risers fell in heartbreaking fashion against Japan's Tokyo Dime.Exe.
Masahiro Komatsu drilled a cold-blooded 2-pointer with 33 seconds left over the outstretched arms of Santi Santillan giving Japan the 22-20 victory Sunday at the SM Megamall Fashion Hall.
Tomoya Ochiai and Petar Perunovic led the way for Japan scoring six points apiece. Keita Suzuki added five and Komatsu also had five, including the game-winner.
"Very very tough game. But we believed in our power and trust to the team," said Ochiai, who is number one ranked player in Japan. "We took it possession by possession and treated every one of those importantly."
Japan will not only take home the championship, but also $20,000, a ticket to the 2019 FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters Doha later this month, and a seat to the Challengers in Penang on May 12 to 13. Runner-up Bataan will also head to Doha and will take home $15,000.
The quartet of Santi Santillan, Alvin Pasaol, Karl Dehesa, and Travis Franklin left it all on the floor but ultimately fell short. The loss is an extremely bitter pill to swallow as Bataan actually had a five-point lead, 18-13, after Santillan knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:32 remaining.
Tokyo Dime, who is ranked 19th in the world, made an inspiring comeback led by Perunovic who scored five points in the last two and a half minutes. But it was a late-game blunder that also cost the Philippines the championship. After a bucket by Perunovic made into a one-point contest, Bataan was called for a technical foul, asking for a timeout with none to burn. Suzuki then tied the game with a free throw. Bataan couldn't convert, which eventually led to the gutsy 2-pointer by Komatsu.
"There's regret. I feel down because I was kinda the reason that we lost," said Santillan, who was part of the violation that led to the technical foul, as well as the last defensive possession. "But my teammates were there and said positive things to me. This a huge help to Doha."
Meanwhile, the Pasig Grindhouse Kings ended up in third place after their semifinals finish. They defeated TVS Reading Cinema Australia, 19-13, but lost to Japan in the semis, 11-16.
"We fought hard. We came out and gave everything we had, we left everything on the court. I think it's unfortunate with the way that we lost, but at the same time it's all a learning experience," shared Joshua Munzon.
The top three finishers of the Super Quest will all head to Doha for the World Tour Masters - Tokyo Dime.Exe, 1Bataan Risers, and Pasig Grindhouse Kings.
"Filipinos and Japanese will represent Asia. Many European teams, strong teams are coming so we'll represent Asia. We'll both show puso," Ochiai said.