MANILA, Philippines -- After observing Manila Chooks TM in practice and learning about 3x3, Aldin Ayo is confident that the Philippines has a chance to earn a ticket to Tokyo in the FIBA 3x3 Olympic qualifying tournament next year.
Ayo, the former head coach of University of Santo Tomas (UST), has been tasked with preparing the national team for the Olympic qualifiers that takes place in Graz, Austria in May 2021. It will be a new challenge for Ayo, who will be coaching in the half court game for the first time.
"'Yung first impression ko, mag-rely sa individual capability ng mga players. 'Yun ang una kong nakita kasi tatlo lang eh. So sabi ko, magde-depende sa talent, magde-depende sa skills and depende talaga sa players," Ayo said during a recent appearance on "Power and Play" with former PBA commissioner Noli Eala.
Ayo was impressed with the Manila Chooks TM squad that ruled the recent Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup.
The four players -- Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Troy Rike, and Santi Santillan -- are all ranked in the Top 10 in the Philippines, and together they won four of five legs in the conference and earned the right to represent the Philippines in the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Doha Masters later this month.
"Makikita mo, talagang fit 'yung apat kasi sa 3x3, dapat 'yung player malaki and dapat versatile, dapat two-way," Ayo said of the quartet. "Hindi mo kailangan ng mga role players dito."
"Ito na 'yung tipong all players should be able to create their own shots, makaka-opensa. At the same time, of course, siyempre kailangan mong dumepensa. And siyempre dapat, maganda rin 'yung mentals," he added.
Two of the players in Manila Chooks -- top-ranked Munzon and No. 2 Pasaol -- will be part of the national team that will compete in the OQT in May 2021. Rike and Santillan are part of the training pool and will be helping them in their preparations for the competition.
The other two members of the team are San Miguel Beer big man Moala Tautuaa and TerraFirma guard CJ Perez. Even though he has yet to see the whole team practice together, Ayo is already confident in what he saw from the current group.
"I'd been watching games na, tinitingnan ko 'yung mga teams na nagko-compete. May chance," he said.
This chance, however, will hinge on the team's preparation. Ayo is confident that they will get the needed support from the team's chief backer in Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc., but what they need most is time to prepare and work on their chemistry.
"Ang importante, 'yung preparation. Kasi 'yun nga, mas talented 'yung mga makakalaban natin, so we have to be more ready or more prepared compared sa kanila," said Ayo.
Ayo expects to work with the national team once they return from Doha, where they will play from November 20 to 21. In the meantime, he and his own coaching staff are also getting ready.
"Right now, now, we are preparing already, kasi of course we have to adjust. Una, first time namin sa ganito eh. Pero whatever it is, basketball pa rin naman eh. May mga different mechanics pero andoon kami sa detalye na kung ano 'yung pwedeng gawin," he said.
There are three berths to the Tokyo Olympics at stake in the OQT in May. The Philippines has been pooled with Slovenia, France, Qatar and the Dominican Republic in the competition that is scheduled for May 26 to 30.