The love for basketball has only grown bigger here in the Philippines, and it has made its way into the esports scene.
The NBA 2K League APAC Invitational was hosted for the first time in the country on November 17 and 18 at High Grounds Cafe in Quezon City where games on the virtual hardcourt were broadcasted on NBA 2K League’s Twitch and YouTube channels, NBA TV Philippines, and Cignal’s Pilipinas Live app.
Forty players from eight teams from the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and China competed in a best-of-three, 5v5 single elimination bracket, in NBA 2K24 Pro-Am mode. At stake was a grand prize of $5,000 (or nearly P280,000) and the elusive chance to join the 2024 NBA 2K League Draft.
Australia’s NO WAY OUT came out of the contest as winners but their road to gold was far from easy.
The heavy favorite coming into the tournament was eGilas Pilipinas, who was recently hailed as regional champions of eFIBA Open Season 2 (Asian qualifiers). During that stint, the Filipinos snagged 100+ points against India twice. However, Naos Esports, another Philippine esports team, fended them off for the upset.
Naos Esports’ Michael “NAOS_LikeMike” Villegas led the charge with his 3-pointers in the last quarter of the deciding match, coming up with 20 points and an 86 percent efficiency from beyond the arc. Then they took out China’s Trapper in an overtime win in the semifinals.
In the finals of the tournament, Naos Esports had to face NO WAY OUT, who interestingly were already out of the tournament. But the supposed qualifying team in the semifinals, Aegis Indonesia Patriots, got disqualified due to health protocol-related issues, paving the way for the Australian team to face Naos Esports in the finals.
In the championship match, the Australians maximized the opportunity and defeated Naos Esports, 2-0, with a 52-35 final score.
“Despite falling short, we're thankful for the opportunity to compete in the NBA 2K League APAC Invitational. Never in our lives did we expect to be here and so it was an honor and a privilege to represent the Philippines in the finals. This experience will definitely be a core memory for our team," said Juan Gabriel "NAOS_SpamGod" Dela Pena of Naos Esports.