THE preseason encounter between the new kids on the block Nueva Ecija and the veteran-laden Uling Roasters-Butuan City was the most talked about this week because of the intense nature of the contest that resulted in a whopping 26 foul calls in just four minutes and 14 seconds of game time.
The hostilities did not take very long to start as Butuan’s JR Alabanza gave Nueva Ecija’s Gab Banal a bruising body check just eight seconds after the game started.
Later on, University of the Philippines star Juan Gomez de Liano was clipped on the head by Karl Dehesa later on that resulted in an unsportsmanlike foul. A few moments later, he and Butuan ace Franky Johnson also had their heated moment after the latter hipchecked the former on a drive to the rack.
Even Butuan's rookie veteran Chico Lanete and Reyes had a brief interaction when the latter bodychecked Lanete straight into the LED board.
For Nueva Ecija’s playing team manager Jai Reyes, their physicality showed that they were ready to stand their ground against the country's top 3x3 players.
"I can tell you, we are going to compete. You saw it naman sa preseason games namin especially against Butuan," said Reyes.
For Johnson, the game was a perfect wake-up call to them.
"My team loves the physicality and that’s just how we all play. We play with a lot of heart," said the eighth-ranked 3x3 player in the country.
"Now once we combine our heart and dog mentality into becoming a better smarter team, we are going to be super dangerous."
Reyes, later on, shared that the two sides were able to shake it off after the game.
"Yung physicality is there talaga every game pero all good sa lahat ng players pagbalik sa rooms," he said.
Johnson though is looking forward to getting a victory if and when they get to face off against Nueva Ecija once more.
"Good game. We have no comment on it really. We know what we have to do to come back," he said.
"We're looking forward to the rematch."
Come Leg One on Wednesday, October 21, the only chance the two teams would meet is in the playoffs as Butuan is in Pool B together with Pasig-Sta. Lucia and Pagadian Rocky Sports while Nueva Ecija is slotted in Pool D with Bacolod Master Sardines and Petra Cement-Roxas City ZN. (JNP)