MANILA, Philippines – For the world's best 3x3 basketball player, the Philippines has a long way to go before the country can clinch a world championship in the sport.
But by taking some baby steps, it won't hurt to dream that a gold will eventually come Gilas' way. That's why Philippine basketball officials have started to embrace the idea of a dedicated 3x3 team – or even a league – down the road.
"Kasi ang hirap i-sustain [ng program] and ask [the team] to be competitive kung kukuha lang tayo ng players every now and then sa 5-on-5 teams," said Gilas Pilipinas backer Ronald Mascariñas, president of Bounty Agro Ventures.
(It's difficult to sustain the program and ask the team to be competitive when we just get 5-on-5 players every now and then.)
Dusan Bulut, the Serbian who won Most Valuable Player in the recent FIBA 3x3 World Cup, had said it would be a long journey before the Philippines join the sport's powerhouse. (READ: PH still far behind in world 3x3 basketball, says world no.1 player)
But the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) intends to focus on the development of the sport as soon as possible. (READ: SBP aims to create a dedicated 3x3 national pool)
"With Al Panlilio, the president of SBP, and the other FIBA officials, we realize that we need to organize a sustainable 3x3 league," Mascariñas said.
If the country's performance in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup is any indication, better preparation and a well-planned program may just spell the difference.
The Philippine 3x3 team of Stanley Pringle, Christian Standhardinger, RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario still wound up with a 2-2 record in the group stage despite having just 11 total practices together in a span of 3 weeks.
"There's no substitute for preparation," said Gilas 3x3 coach Ronnie Magsanoc. "Yung puso ng mga players hindi mo naman matatawaran yan eh." (You can't deny the players' heart anyway.)
"With the kind of preparation that they (opponents) had, hindi isang buwan, hindi dalawang buwan, hindi isang taon, hindi dalawang taon," the soft-spoken tactician added. "Mongolia had a team that was playing since they (players) were 14 years old. Ilang taon na sila ngayon?"
(With the kind of preparation that our opponents had, it wasn't one or two months, nor one or two years. Mongolia had a team that was playing since their players were 14 years old. How old are they now?)
But with a long-term program, 3x3 basketball may just be the Philippines' best shot in the world stage. Since clearly, the NBA players still run the Olympic basketball show. – Rappler.com