TNT mainstays Samboy De Leon and Lervin Flores are out to maximize the opportunity of a lifetime after being called up by Gilas Pilipinas for the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup this week at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Never did the two ever imagine that they would be given a chance to represent the country overseas, thus the immense excitement on their part to compete against the best that the continent has to offer in the July 6-10 festivities.
“Big dream na nangyari sa buhay ko,” said the 6-foot-5 Flores.
“First time ko ‘to. Sobra. 3×3 pa. Nandito pala ‘yung career ko. ‘Di ba?”
De Leon added: “Sobrang honored, siyempre. Rare opportunity na makapag-suot ka ng jersey ng Pilipinas, makapaglaro ka para sa Pilipinas.”
Gilas 3×3 is bannered practically by the Tropang Giga core that recently bagged home the PBA 3×3 Third Conference grand championship.
Flores and De Leon are joining their star Almond Vosotros for the wars. Also with them is Purefoods Tender Juicy main man Joseph Eriobu.
It was actually those two teams who met in the grand finale, with the Tropa coming out on top with a 21-19 overtime victory that saw them crawl back from a five-point deficit with less than two minutes left in regulation.
That also served as a sweet payback for the flagship MVP franchise after losing to their corporate rivals back in the sixth leg final just a week prior.
Whatever rivalry there is between them, though, will be set aside for the bigger battle ahead, where Gilas 3×3 will have to go through a qualifying draw first against more experienced teams in Indonesia and Jordan.
Both Flores and De Leon know that they have their work cut out for them, but the two assured that they’ll go all-in against the competition.
“It’s going to be a hard battle kasi nakita ko ‘yung lineup, sobrang laki nila. Tapos, ambibilis din. Basta sinasabi lang namin sa team nung mga past practices namin na go all in lang, no excuses,” De Leon said.
“Mapapalaban talaga tayo kasi malalaki mga player doon e, tsaka sanay sila. Hihimayin namin unti-unti para makuha namin ‘yung panalo,” vowed Flores, on the other hand.
“Tatrabahuhin talaga namin.”