THE Philippines fell short in its quest to make it back-to-back championships in the Southeast Asia/Oceania conference of the FIBA Esports Open after being swept by Australia in their best-of-three finals on Sunday.

Took the first edition of the Open earlier this year, E-Gilas, as the national team is referred to, tried to keep its standing in the second iteration of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) tournament but found a stiffer opposition in the shored-up conference that included Oceania this time around as represented by the E-Boomers.

Team Philippines actually topped elimination play from Nov. 14 to 15, finishing with a 5-1 record with 11 points, one up over Australia (4-2). The third team in the conference, Indonesia (0-6), went winless.

In the finals, however, E-Gilas found the going tough and saw the E-Boomers, who they defeated twice in the elimination round, turn the tables on them.

Australia elevated its game, taking the opener of the series, 62-54, on the lead of Kyle “Vassallo” Vassallo and Jonte “AnkleTv” Burns, who combined for 34 points.

E-Gilas tried to extend the finals series to a rubber match, but slick shooting from beyond the arc by Australia made it tougher for Team Philippines to soar.

The Filipinos trailed early in the second game and could not recover from it, eventually bowing to the 69-54 defeat.

Eighteen-year-old Benjamin “Waurk” Klobas took the most valuable player honors for Australia having posted back-to-back double-doubles in the Finals.

It was the second title for Australia in the FIBA Esports Open after topping the Oceania conference back in June.

Joining it among the winners in the FIBA Esports Open II were Saudi Arabia (Middle East) and Cote D’Ivore (Africa).

Angelico “Shintarou” Cruzin, Aminolah “Rial” Polog Jr., Custer “Custer” Galas, Philippe “IzzoIV” Herrero IV, and Clark “Clark” Banzon, and reserves Arnie ”El Chapo” Sison and Rocky “Rak” Braña represented Team Philippines in the tournament. They were coached by Nite Alparas.

For the tournament, games were played remotely on NBA 2K using the Pro-AM mode and allowing full customization of player avatars, uniforms and arena designs.

The FIBA Esports Open 2020 was angled by the world basketball governing body to add further dimension to it as an organization while also affording the basketball community some action after activities were halted by the coronavirus pandemic. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo