They hope to play together very soon

JOSHUA Munzon and Alvin Pasaol, the country's top 3x3 basketball players, hope to connect with CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa right away when the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 League kicks off next month at the INSPIRE Sports Academy inside the National University-Laguna campus in Calamba .

League commissioner Eric Altamirano said that Perez and Tautuaa need to get their respective permission from their mother PBA ballclubs to play together with Munzon and Pasaol for the 3x3 national team which is vying for next year’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Graz, Austria.

“The one thing that is confirmed right now is they (Munzon and Pasaol) will play together when we start our league,” said Altamirano during yesterday’s virtual Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

“As for the PBA players (Perez and Tautuaa), we have not talked to their mother teams in the PBA yet because we all know they will be their priority. But if given a chance, yes, we can have all of them four players in one team in one of our conferences,” he added.

Perez and Tautuaa were part of the Philippine team that won the gold medal in the first-ever 3x3 basketball competition in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last year.

Currently the Philippines' second-best 3x3 basketball player, Pasaol said it is important for the team to get to train and play together to gain a spot in the pandemic-stalled Tokyo Olympics next year.

“We have a strong chance of performing well but chemistry will be an important factor,” said Pasaol during the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Go for Gold Philippines, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

The Philippines is bracketed with Slovenia, France, Qatar, and the Dominican Republic in Group C.

The 12-team Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 League was supposed to open its second season with the President's Cup last March 29, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis which affected the sporting world.

As the fledging 3x3 league is plotting for next month's opening, Altamirano is focusing on preparing well for the two conferences it plans to hold this year inside the "bubble" in Calamba, Laguna.

“More than finishing the tournament, the important thing is if we can do this safely,” said Altamirano in the weekly Forum powered by Smart with Upstream Media as webcast partner.

The participants will undergo several COVID-19 tests and the league will implement stringent health protocols inside the "bubble".