By Ivan Saldajeno
LOS BAÑOS--The Philippines turned back Romania, 21-15, at the start of its FIBA 3x3 World Cup campaign in Nantes, France early Monday (Philippine Time).
Kobe Paras displayed some dazzling moves for the finish, but none was more important than the game's last four points that completed the knockout of the Romanian side.
Romania got to a good start, scoring four straight points following JR Quiñahan's opening basket to go up, 4-1.
But Paras, Jeron Teng, and Kiefer Ravena began finding their stroke midway through and helped the Philippines go up, 12-11, with 3:32 left.
Romania scored two straight to get the lead back, 13-12, but Paras went for a layup off a crossover and Ravena scored four straight including a booming deuce with 1:03 left for a 17-13 lead.
Bogdan Sandu kept Romania in the game with a two-pointer with 55 seconds left, but Paras answered with his own long tom to up the lead again to four, 19-15, with 37 seconds to go.
Paras then grabbed a steal and drew the foul that sent Romania to penalty. Paras shot both charities for the dagger.
The Philippines will face host nation France at 3:10 a.m. Monday (Philippine Time).
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno