FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2018: Janine Pontejos overcame nerves, chilly arena for the Philippines’ first ever medal

Both the Philippines’ men’s and women’s team were eliminated in the group phase of the 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup, but Janine Pontejos gave the country something to cheer about on the final day.

The Filipina shooter won the Philippines’ first-ever medal at the senior level of the FIBA3x3 World Cup, a gold medal in the mixed gender shoot-out competition, on Tuesday. “Hindi ako nawalan ng pag-asa,” she said about making the country proud despite the team’s winless showing. Pontejos claimed the gold medal over Russia’s Alexandra Stolyar and Croatia’s Marin Hrvoje.

The CEU alumna caught fire in the mixed gender event, finishing with 14 points in 41.86 seconds to the delight of the home crowd. The second-placed Stolyar also finished with 14 markers, but did it in 49.92 seconds, while Hrvoje swished in 11 points for the bronze medal.

Pontejos had the hot hand in the competition, but she admitted that she was nervous and literally cold before shooting her shots. “Sobra po akong kinakabahan, sa umpisa pa lang po sobrang nilalamig na yung kamay ko,” Pontejos said as she addressed the media. “Ang hirap po kasi ang lakas ng aircon. Ang nipis ko po kaya kailangan pagpawisan ako.”

“Na-imagine ko na lang na nag dri-drills lang kami, so buti na lang lumabas ang shooting ko,” she added.

Pontejos was overcome with more nerves after she watched Stolyar drain 14 points, especially since the time elapsed was not displayed at the venue. In the end, Pontejos was beaming with pride after winning the country’s first ever medal at the senior level of the tournament.

The Philippines only won medals in the youth level in FIBA 3×3 through Kobe Paras’ two dunk titles in 2013 and 2015.

“Pinagmamalaki ko yung first 3×3 medal,” Pontejos said. “Sobrang proud na proud po ako na ako yung nakakuha nito.”

Right after addressing the media, Pontejos shared a warm moment with her teammates and coaches in the chilly Philippine Arena in Bulacan. Her teammates expressed they knew the smallest member of their squad, who stands at 5’5″, would be the one everyone would be looking up to.

“Sabi ko nga sa’yo eh!” Jack Danielle Animam said as she hugged the shoot-out champion.

This is the first medal of the Philippines at the senior level of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup, but you can bet this will leave the country hungry for more success.

Photo from FIBA.com

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