PH teams Pasig, Balanga end Doha Masters 3x3 runs in quarterfinals

DOHA -- After scoring surprising wins on the first day of he FIBA 3x3 World Tour Doha Masters 2019, both Chooks-to-Go Balanga and Chooks-to-Go Pasig were eliminated Friday in the quarterfinals by teams that had a better idea of what to expect.

Pasig fell to No. 3 Riga Ghetto of Latvia, 21-15, and Balanga lost to top-ranked Liman of Serbia, 21-9.

The difference for the Philippine representatives on the second day was that the top teams were capable of taking their games to another level, even though Balanga and Pasig pushed themselves to the limit to top their respective groups.

Pasig was first to see action facing Riga. The Latvians, who fell to Balanga on the first day day, made their first two shots from long range to quickly establish control.

Lingering foul trouble made it difficult for Pasig throughout, and the situation led to the Philippine squad being beaten badly off the glass. Taylor Statham's late foul allowed Riga to put the game away.

"It's not the result that we wanted, but we're still proud of what our team accomplished," Statham said. "We have to prepare our bodies better for the physicality, but I still think we did well, winning against the top team in the world and then losing to the No. 3 team in the world when many people thought we'd come and here and be smacked."

Balanga faced No. 1 Liman later in the day. Leonard Santillan suited up for Balanga, but it was clear he still hasn't recovered from an ankle sprain. To make matters worse for Balanga, Alvin Pasaol suffered an injury on his left hand that caused swelling.

Travis Franklin, who topped all scorers after Day 1, and Karl Dehesa did their best to keep it competitive, but Liman was simply too good in marching decisively to the semifinals.

"They were more ready for us this time," Dehesa said. "They got the chance to see how we play, so it's up to us now to learn from this experience."

Riga and Liman won their respective semifinal games and squared off in the finals, where the Latvians emerged with a 15-14 win to claim their first Masters.

"We're thankful that there were so many Filipinos who showed up to support us," said Pasaol, a crowd favorite throughout the tournament. "We'll be able to take this experience and learn from it and hopefully be better next time."