Janine Pontejos guards a towering Nora Rujak in the night cap of the Pool D women's action in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup, Sunday night at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.Contributed Photo/Joaqui Flores
BOCAUE, Bulacan — Perlas Pilipinas continued to outdo themselves despite absorbing their fourth straight loss in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup.
Faced with their toughest challenge, the Filipinas looked like they were poised for a massive upset against third-seeded Hungary. The hosts made the visitors pay for defensive lapses, they sank their tough shots, they matched their assignments grit.
Only the inexperience — most evident in the form of fouls — was just too much to handle. They bowed to Hungary, 15-18, in the nightcap of tournament’s Day Four at the Philippine Arena.
Just like in their game earlier against the Spaniards, the Filipinas were in control of the game for the most part. That was the case until the level of physicality hit fever pitch. The fouls came in droves, throwing the hosts off track, snuffing what was a 10-6 edge.
“Ganoon talaga. This will start something for us. I’m hoping na sana ma-suportahan kami. We could see naman na we showed that we could be side-by-side with other teams,” head coach Pat Aquino told the press after the game.
Seeded lowest in a field of 20 teams, Perlas went on dictate the pace and hold on to the lead until former Euro Cup Most Valuable Player Dóra Medgyessy took over.
Medgyessy, bolstered by the hulking Bettina Bozoki, slowly chafed on the lead from the charity stripe. The pair combined for 16 markers as Alexandra Theodorean and Nora Rujak chimed in one each.
“Bawat game namin, we gave them a good fight,” said crowd favorite Jack Danielle Aminam. She finished with a point.
“Sa apat na games namin, unpredictable kami,” she added.
Janine Pontejos reprised her hot shooting, accounting for seven of the Perlas’ total production. Afril Bernardino contributed four while Gemma Miranda, though a bit too late, got her groove and added three more.
"Nagpapasalamat po ako kay coach Pat kasi nilineup niya ako dito. Sa dami ng players na magaling, sinama niya ako sa lineup niya,” overwhelmed by the Day 4’s turnout, said.
“Kung na-master sana namin ‘yung 3x3 baka nakuha namin ‘yung mga panalo na ‘yon,” Aminam said of the team’s other close losses —namely against Spain and Germany.
Perlas wraps up their World Cup campaign without a win. But the amount of admiration they have earned — the vast number of respect they obtained after an incredible showing in a grouping that pitted them against the world’s finest — would never appear on any scoreboard or stat sheet.
And that is definitely worth more than any tick in the win column.
PERLAS PILIPINAS 15 - Pontejos 7, Bernardino 4, Miranda 3, Animam 1
HUNGARY 18 - Bozoki 8, Medgyessy 8, Theodorean 1, Rujak 1