Letran dominated the inaugural National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 3x3 competition 14-under division. Two Squires team of the Colegio, Letran-1 and Letran-2, faced off in the in championship match last January 28 at the Jose Rizal University gym, with Letran-1 capturing the title.
Letran-1 was composed of John Rey Guevarra, Ray Allen Maglupay, Ahmad Atiyeh, and Carl Abanico. While runner-up Letran-2 was manned by Ralph Angelo Cruz, Bradley Palmes, Rolando Balasabas, and Andre Tablizo.
“Malaki, malaki ito,” said head coach RJ Guevarra, noting their historic achievement which saw two teams from the same school battle each other. “Kasi unang-una nga alam ng mga bata na they’re already part of the history of the NCAA.” “Unang-unang 3x3 sila ‘yung nagchampion. ‘Di lang champion, pati ‘yung nakalaban nila, ‘yung nag runner up Letran pa ‘din,” he added.
Guevarra admitted that one of the keys to their success is the players’ smooth transition and familiarity to the 3x3. “‘Yung 14-under, walang kahirap-hirap ‘yan. In fact, it’s a no-brainer sa kanila kasi even when they’re in 11-under or 12-under, nilalaban ko na talaga sila sa 3 on 3,” he explained.
Guevarra further explained that the 3x3 format was part of the team’s basic training, incorporating drills fit to the fundamentals of the said competition.
“Most of the time yung mga drills naming ginagamit kapag nagpapractice kami ng defense, breakdown ng mga offense, lahat naman ‘yan nagsa-start sa 3 on 3 eh,” he said. “Everything is just very basic for us. ‘Yon, ‘yun siguro ‘yung [advantage] namin kasi everyday ginagawa namin ‘yung mga bagay na ‘yun.”
The team has won numerous championships in different leagues this year. However, the NCAA 3x3 crown is, by far, the most special plum they have achieved.
“Masaya ako kasi this is very historical. Isipin mo this is the very first NCAA 3x3. Both of my teams swept both their brackets,” Guevarra said.
The NCAA 3x3 was part of the league’s effort to help the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas in developing the fast-growing competitions. Eight out of ten schools of the NCAA participated in the event, with San Beda and St. Benilde opted out of the tournament due to respective school-wide activities.