MANILA - The Philippine national team will be tested when they compete in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Presidents Cup, the first professional season of the pioneering league.
Members of the Philippine team, Alvin Pasaol and Joshua Munzon, will compete under the banner of Zamboanga Chooks-to-Go in the event that will run from October 16-31 in a bubble at the Inspire Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
According to Chooks 3x3 Commissioner Eric Altamirano, the other 11 teams in the field will give the powerhouse Zamboanga squad a run for their money.
"I've been watching all the teams practice kasi as you know, meron kaming centralized venue for our practices," Altamirano said during an appearance on "Power and Play" last Saturday. "So I've been observing all the teams."
"The way I see them, 'yung ating national team will be really ... they're going to have a hard time with other teams," he guaranteed. "Very competitive ang mga ibang teams."
Aside from Munzon and Pasaol, the No. 1 and No. 2 player in the country, respectively, Zamboanga Chooks-to-Go also features Troy Rike and Santi Santillan, both of whom are also in the national team pool.
As good as these players are, Altamirano believes that other teams have also loaded up their rosters with the goal of overcoming the Zamboanga squad.
"'Yung mga players na kinuha nila for their teams are really fit for 3x3. I really see a very exciting conference dito sa bubble," he said.
Aside from Zamboanga Chooks-to-Go, the other teams in the bubble are: Uling Roasters-Butuan City, Bacolod-Masters Sardines, Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, Palayan City Capitals, Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes MLV, Porac Big Boss Cement MSC, Bicol 3×3 Pro, Pasig Sta. Lucia Realtors, Saranggani Marlins, Pagadian City Rocky Sports, and Petra Cement.
A competitive conference is exactly what the national team players need, as the Presidents' Cup also serves as their preparation for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year.
The event was initially set for Bangalore, India last March, but it had to be rescheduled because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. It will now be held in Graz, Austria on May 26-30, 2021.
"Very limited ang preparations namin," Altamirano admitted. "Basically, dahil bawal ang traveling so we could not travel right now and participate in world tournaments, FIBA-sanctioned."
Their competitors in the OQT have already been training for the past three months, said Altamirano, participating in FIBA 3x3 events particularly in Europe.
"Ang laki ng advantage nila. And kami, hindi pa nga kami nakakapag-start ng scrimmage. Ano pa lang, individual training pa lang for the last two months," he said.
Aside from Pasaol and Munzon, PBA players CJ Perez of Terra Firma and Moala Tautuaa of San Miguel are also part of the national team. Both Perez and Tautuaa are part of the national team that won 3x3 gold in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games last December.