A bigger and more competitive WNBL 3×3 is on tap as it unveils its second leg on Feb. 26 at the Hoopla gym inside the Angelis Resort in Muntinlupa City.
Ten teams divided into two groups will vie for honor, prize money, and prestige of helping the country gain valuable points in the FIBA ranking for the long-term goal of qualifying in the Olympics.
First leg champion Uratex Dream led by Alyssa Villamor, will be aiming for back-to-back titles, but is expected to be challenged by the rest of the field led by sister team Uratex Tibay.
“It’s going to be an exciting leg again for our viewers and to our women basketball players,” said commissioner Haydee Ong in Tuesday’s virtual Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
Uratex Dream retained the same core that won the inaugural leg last December led by Villamor, Kaye Pingol, Tina Deacon, and Angel Anies, and will be hard-pressed to go for a second straight championship and the P15,000 top prize money that goes with it.
“Always naman na nandiyan yung pressure. So yung pressure na yun ay gagawin na lang naming motivation para kami mag work hard at mag-push pa,” said Villamor, who also graced the public sports program together with Callie Paguigan of Sureviewd, and Uratex Tibay’s Kat Quimpo, who is also executive committee chairman of the league.
Quimpo expects tough games down the road especially now that players are already settled down following their experience playing in the first leg.
“The second leg will be more competitive and we’ve always said that. Yung first leg kasi had been new to all of us,” added Quimpo, who coaches the Ateneo women’s team, in the same session presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Although Sureviewd is seeing action for the first time, Paguigan hopes her team gets to compete for the championship despite the limited time of practicing together due to the current health pandemic.
Uratex Dream headlines Pool A together with Boost Basketball, We Got Next, Sureviewd, and Angelis Resort, while Teachshare leads Pool B along with Uratex Tibay, Rizal Huskies, JJD, and Dreamers.
Ong said teams will play in a single round robin, with the top two in each pool advancing to the crossover semifinals. The two surviving teams after the knockout semis will then dispute the title.
WNBL officials are also hoping the country’s FIBA ranking will continue to rise with the regular holding of 3×3 games, which will have a total of six legs to be played.
At the conclusion of the opening leg, the Philippines rose from no. 92 to no. 64 as it continues to eye of landing at least in the Top 10 for a shot at an Olympic berth.
“Yun ang ultimate goal namin,” said Ong.
“And I think nothing is impossible.”