MANILA, Philippines -- PBA officials are quite pleased with the response to the league's inaugural 3x3 tournament, with chairman Ricky Vargas noting that it had a "very positive" impact.
The first conference of the PBA 3x3 Lakas ng Tatlo concluded last December 29, with the Limitless Appmasters emerging as champions in the grand finals. The team, affiliated with Phoenix Super LPG, won the last two legs heading into the finals.
Speaking to former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on "Power and Play," Vargas said the PBA 3x3 tournament will be crucial to the country's bid to qualify for the event in the next Olympic Games.
"Ang maganda dito is that we are recognized by FIBA already, and we're earning points in FIBA. So, that's very positive for us," he said. "It's also a road map to getting to the Olympics. So maganda ang cooperation namin with SBP and PBA."
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial was also delighted with how the tournament progressed, noting that local fans found the half-court version of the game entertaining.
"Napasaya natin ang mga fans," he said on "The Chasedown." "And okay sa mga governors… okay din sa mga sponsors."
"Totoo, nabigla ako, nagulat ako, na napalipad natin ang 3x3. Siguro maganda lang 'yung timing natin, at may basbas sa taas. Ang ganda ng 3x3, nakakagulat na biglang nagkagana 'yung mga fans," he added. "Ang importante doon, nasuportahan tayo, at nagkaroon ng interes ang mga fans."
The PBA initially planned to hold the second conference of the 3x3 season in early January, concurrent with the Governors' Cup. However, those plans had to be put on hold when Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 3, which compelled the league to postpone its games.
Like their 5-on-5 counterparts, 3x3 teams are also not allowed to train together and hold scrimmages.
Despite the current restrictions, the PBA officials assure that 3x3 basketball is very much in their plans, especially after a promising start.
"We're in close coordination with the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas)," said Marcial. "Kasama natin ang SBP dito. Kaya natin tinayo 'to, para sa SBP, para sa national team natin. Sana, makarating tayo sa Olympics dito sa 3x3, na nakikita kong malaki ang tsansa."
"We are thinking of season 2 already. And hopefully, when we get back to playing again on this 5-on-5, we may have a second conference for 3x3," Vargas said, for his part.