By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
TEAM PHILIPPINES churned out dominant performances in its first four matches against Indonesia in their five-game series in the inaugural FIBA Esports Open on its way to claiming the Southeast Asian conference with one game left to play later on Sunday.
It is a showing that the “E-Gilas” team attributed to ample preparation heading into the competition and willingness of the members to work together.
Aimed to make waves in the first-ever esports tournament of basketball’s world-governing body, Team Philippines delivered accordingly, lording it over its Indonesian counterpart by an average winning margin of 32 points by the end of match day two on Saturday.
The team of Aljon “Shintarou” Gruzin (point guard), Rial “Rial” Polog Jr. (shooting guard), Custer “Aguila” Galas (small forward), Rocky “Rak” Brana (center/power forward), Philippe “Izzo” Alcaraz Herrero IV (center), Clark “Clark” Banzon (power forward) and Al “Alt” Timajo (center/power forward) was to meet Indonesia for one last time in the competition on Sunday set for 6:45 p.m.
The Philippines opened the proceedings with a 56-29 victory over the Indons in the first game on Friday with Shintarou leading the way with 22 points, seven assists and three boards.
It then followed it up with a 64-30 victory in the second game for the day, with Shintarou top-scoring anew for the Philippines with 21 points, with Aguila and Rial chipping in 17 and 10 points, respectively, to help their team to a 2-0 series lead.
Match day two saw a familiar refrain with the Filipino e-gamers humming.
They took game three, 66-34, to seal the conference title before keeping their unblemished record with a 79-44 win in game four.
“We just prepared for things we could control like our mechanics and teamwork. And we have been doing it for the past three weeks and from the results we can say it is quite successful,” said Izzo in describing keys to their dominant showing in the competition.
He added that the team members knowing their respective roles and delivering have made playing more seamless.
But despite the Southeast Asian title already assured for Team Philippines, Izzo said they remained committed heading into the final game on Sunday.
“We plan to win all the five games and we don’t want to be complacent,” said Izzo, the first Filipino player to be drafted in the NBA 2K league.
The FIBA Esports Open 2020 is angled to add further dimension to FIBA as an organization while also affording the basketball community some action after activities were halted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Seventeen teams were involved in the inaugural tournament, namely, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Cyprus, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine.
Also part of Team Philippines are coach Nielie “Nite” Alparas, and team manager Richard Brojan.