The goal is to make it back to the 5-on-5 competitions, but Joseph Eriobu never expected that playing in the PBA 3×3 would open another door for him.
One that would lead him to the global stage, too.
But now, he’s part of the Gilas Pilipinas crew that will play in the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup this week in Singapore.
“Unexpected talaga ‘to para sa’kin, na mag-represent sa Pilipinas,” said the lefty gunner.
“Blessed lang talaga. Nagbunga lahat ng hard work.”
Eriobu is actually no stranger to playing overseas, having played for Hong Kong Eastern in the ASEAN Basketball League some three years ago. But definitely, his upcoming stint is a whole different thing, since flag and country is involved.
“Ibang usapan na ‘yun. Team Pilipinas na ‘yun e. Hindi na ‘yun para sa kung anong team mo,” said the 6-foot-4 winger. “Ang dinadala mo na, bansa.”
Eriobu will join forces with the TNT troika of Almond Vosotros, Samboy De Leon, and Lervin Flores – the very same players who foiled his and Purefoods’ title aspirations in the Third Conference Grand Finals, Sunday.
The former Mapua Cardinal did not hide how painful it was to blow a five-point lead and yield to a 19-21 result in overtime. Still, he didn’t take away anything from the Tropang Giga, who also went home with the P750,000 top prize.
“Masakit talaga,” he said. “Siguro pinagkaloob na talaga ng Panginoon sa kanila, at deserve nilang manalo rin naman. Both teams fought hard and alam ko both teams deserved to win, pero isa lang naman dapat ang manalo.”
Now he’s moving on, with his sights set on a bigger battle ahead set on July 6-10, which he’ll go into with rivals turned teammates.
Eriobu knows not just the odds stacked against him, but also the doubts towards his squad as many questioned the selection process.
Thus, the desire to prove them otherwise through their play in the continental showpiece.
“Despite na ang daming haters, ang daming sinasabi, okay lang,” said the 30-year-old, who has the task of defending Indonesia’s Lester Prosper in the qualifying draw.
“Gaya nga ng sinasabi sa’min nung nagpa-practice kami, hindi sila ang naglalaro, kayo ang maglalaro, kayo magre-representa.”