UAAP champs FEU, NCAA kings Letran headline i3i hoops tourney

Bannered by reigning collegiate titlists FEU and Letran, a crack field of 32 teams will duke it out this weekend when the inaugural staging of the Intercollegiate 3×3 Invitationals unfolds this weekend in two separate venues.

The Tamaraws, the reigning UAAP titleholder, will field a pair of teams in the two-day event that will be held at Xavier School in San Juan and at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall in Pasay City, with 6-foot-10 Nigerian Prince Orizu and guard Joe Trinidad joining hands with Brandrey Biernes and New Zealand native Joseph Nunag in FEU-Team A handled by assistant coach Ryan Betia.

The Knights, who regained the NCAA seniors cage throne last year, will also try to claim the initial bragging rights in the event, with new coach Jeff Napa calling the shots.

“We want to showcase the talents of collegiate players even more,” said i3i tournament director Kiefer Ravena on Wednesday afternoon during the press launch held at The Frazzled Cook in Scout Gandia, Quezon City.

Read: Kiefer Ravena faces new challenge as 3×3 ‘tournament director’

“The 3-on-3 (basketball), it’s a sport na pang-Pinoy, pang-masa. I have enough knowledge of the sport and I want to promote it,” added the former 2-time UAAP MVP, who represented the Philippines in last year’s FIBA 3×3 All Stars in Doha, Qatar where he teamed up with the likes of La Salle star Jeron Teng, Perpetual Help center Bright Akhuetie and San Beda import Ola Adeogun.

“And that’s one mission of this group (Rack Sports), to promote the grassroots development of the sport. Hopefully we will develop the sport into a much, much bigger testing ground for all the players.”

Butch Antonio, the SBP deputy director for international affairs, lauded the efforts of Ravena, 22, and his group to help promote and develop the sport, something that’s in line with the vision of FIBA.

“This is the young baby of FIBA. As a matter of fact, FIBA is very supportive of the Philippines being part of the 3×3 world community,” said Antonio. “It’s a different sport but has more participants and more of a community-based. This is a welcome endeavor and a chance to showcase the Filipino talent.”

Read: Jom Sollano sees similarities in new Letran coach Jeff Napa and Aldin Ayo

Top performers in the Rack Sports’ groundbreaking event will bring home cash prizes, with the eventual champion team bagging P200,000, half of which will go to their school. The bridesmaid finisher will take home P100,000 while the third-placer will earn P50,000.

Runners-up UST and San Beda have earlier expressed their intention to join the tourney which will also feature teams from Ateneo, NU, Mapua, UP, San Sebastian College, UE and Adamson.

Former Finals MVP Alfred Aroga will lead the Bulldogs-Team A that also has Matthew Aquino, Reggie Morido and blue-chip recruit JV Gallego while their Team B will have gunner J-Jay Alejandro, Cameroon import Issa Gaye, Matt Salem and comebacking Michael Pate.

Read: New Letran coach Jeff Napa on Knights’ lineup: Very promising

UE-Team A will have Bonbon Batiller, Paul Varilla, Clark Derige and Alvin Pasaol while veterans RR De Leon, Renz Palma, EDgar Charcos and Ralph Pensuela compose UE’s Team B.

A school can field as many as 3 teams in the event organized by Ravena’s Rack Sports, endorsed by the SBP and supported by Mighty Sports, Akari, SM Mall of Asia, MyPhone, Toby’s, Titan, The Frazzled Cook, Xavier School, Ambucare and Teravibe. — By Jerome Lagunzad

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Letran set to name Jeff Napa as Knights new head coach

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