MANILA, Philippines -- Alvin Pasaol is looking forward to resuming practices with the Philippine national 3x3 team, after their training sessions were put on hold because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The national team started training in February, with Pasaol joined by the country's No. 1 3x3 player, Joshua Munzon, and PBA stars CJ Perez and Moala Tautuaa. Perez and Tautuaa were part of the squad that won gold for the Philippines in the inaugural 3x3 competition in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
"Sa practice namin before nag-lockdown, maganda naman po ang pinapakita nila Kuya Mo at Kuya CJ," Pasaol said during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum. "They are ready to learn how to play 3x3."
Pasaol opted to forego entering the PBA Draft to instead focus on 3x3 last season, and his sacrifice was rewarded when he earned a place in the national team. In May 2021, they will try to punch their ticket to the Tokyo Games when they compete in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Australia.
Both Perez and Tautuaa, for their part, only played 3x3 for the SEA Games. Serbian player Stefan Stojacic, who was brought in to help the team in February, said both PBA players are still new to 3x3.
"They played in the SEA Games, but that tournament is totally different from the international level of playing 3x3. But they have quality, very good players," Stojacic said of Perez and Tautuaa. "Now, we have to change their mindset to 3x3."
According to Pasaol, both Perez and Tautuaa are willing students of the game.
"Noong naglaro sila ng 3x3, parang hindi nila alam masyado 'yung rules, kung paano laruin ang 3x3. Nakinig sila sa amin," he said.
Their last training session was months ago, however, and there has yet to be a schedule for their practices once quarantine restrictions are eased. Pasaol stressed that they need to begin training together again in order to improve their chemistry, which is vital in 3x3 basketball.
"'Yung chemistry talaga kasi, 'yun ang nagpapanalo sa mga foreign teams na nakakalaro namin sa ibang bansa," Pasaol explained.
"With three months, ma-exercise namin 'yung communication namin, kung paano kami mag-bond sa loob ng court," he added.
It will be better if they can compete in some tournaments together as well, the former University of the East star said. In 2019, Pasaol's Balanga squad represented the Philippines in various FIBA 3x3 events internationally, gaining precious ranking points for the country.
Those kinds of competitions will be of great help to the national team before they play in the Olympic qualifiers, he said.
"'Yun ang pinaka-maganda doon," said Pasaol. "Dapat talaga, naglalaro kami ng tournament na kami-kami ang magkakasama."
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