By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE FIRST-EVER staging of the FIBA Esports Open concluded last Sunday with the Philippines among the inaugural winners.

A three-day event that started on June 19, the FIBA Esports Open 2020 featured 17 national teams split into regional groups and competed in different conferences.

Team Philippines, or “E-Gilas,” ruled the Southeast Asian conference, sweeping Indonesia in their five-game series.

Also emerging as winners were Italy (Europe Conference), Argentina (South America Conference), Saudi Arabia (Middle East Conference) and Australia (Oceania Conference).

E-Gilas, composed 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), capped its dominant performance in the tournament by beating its Indonesian counterpart, 71-35, in game five on Sunday.

The 36-point win took the Philippines’ average margin of victory to 32.8 points for the series.

The Filipino e-gamers found themselves in a tight contest early on in game five but once they found the leverage they were looking for they never looked back on their way to the big win.

Rial top-scored for the Philippines, finishing with 25 points, followed by Shintarou with 15 points to go along with five assists.

“Many congratulations on the 5-0 sweep! Thank you, Team Pilipinas! SBP is very proud of you all! Keep on playing and improving for future FIBA Esports tournaments. Remain humble but hungry. Laban Pilipinas! Lakad Matatag!” said Al Panlilio, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president, in a statement following E-Gilas’ dominant showing at the Esports Open.

Also with Team Philippines were coach Nielie “Nite” Alparas, and team manager Richard Brojan.

The FIBA Esports Open 2020 was 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.

Other teams which competed in the inaugural tournament were Austria, Brazil, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine.

At the FIBA Esports Open 2020 each team consisted of seven players, five on the court and two reserves. Games were played remotely on NBA 2K using the Pro-AM mode and allowing full customization of player avatars, uniforms and arena designs.

The entire FIBA Esports Open 2020 series was produced from the brand-new FIBA Esports Studio located in Riga, Latvia.