Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 league owner Ronald Mascariñas did not mince words after Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 fell flat in the Graz, Austria Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), and quickly bowed out of contention for the Tokyo Olympics.
In a press conference involving multiple leagues like the MPBL on Saturday, June 12, the sports patron ripped both the PBA and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) for their handling of the 3×3 roster and preparations for the OQT.
“I will not sugarcoat this. I was really disappointed. Sobrang napakalaking kahihiyan ang binigay nila sa ating bayan,” he said.
(I will not sugarcoat this. I was really disappointed. They gave the country a massive embarrassment.)
“The reason why we invested in the 3×3 league is because we see a promise to inspire our countrymen. ‘Nung nilabas nila na bagong Olympic sport ang 3×3, we saw a promise na baka rito we have a better chance. At the end of the day, sinarili ng SBP at PBA na sila na ang magpapadala roon.”
(The reason why we invested in the 3×3 league is because we see a promise to inspire our countrymen. When it was released that 3×3 would be a new Olympic sport, we saw a promise that we may have a better chance here. At the end of the day, SBP and PBA took matters into their own hands, and took charge of the delegation.)
While Joshua Munzon, Santi Santillan, and reserve Alvin Pasaol were all former Chooks 3×3 stars and the Philippines’ top FIBA-ranked players, CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa were practically unranked at the 800+ range in the country alone, albeit being SEA Games gold medalists.
Ultimately, the final say for the construction of all basketball national teams has always been in the hands of SBP, and Gilas 3×3 is no different. The OQT only required two players in the top 10 of a country’s rankings, while the rest of the roster is up to the federation.
“I have nothing against that if they have good intentions. But inako nila. They did not involve us as if we did not exist. Ba’t di nila trinabaho? They want the credit. They want to be the ones to represent the country. Bakit di nila trinabaho?” Mascariñas continued.
(I have nothing against that if they have good intentions. But they took charge. They did not involve us as if we did not exist. Why didn’t they work for it? They want the credit. They want to be the ones to represent the country. Why did they not work for it?)
For the past three years, Chooks 3×3 players like Munzon and Pasaol racked up federation points by joining multiple FIBA tournaments in the Level 7 to 10 range, which ultimately gave the country a shot at an OQT berth.
However, following the mass exodus of their top talent in favor of joining the PBA, Chooks 3×3 also fell flat in their last international appearance at the 2021 World Tour Doha Masters, where the Chico Lanete-led team finished 13th out of 14 squads.
In that span as well, Perez and Tautuaa were busy making names for themselves in the traditional PBA 5-on-5 circuit, and had no involvement with 3×3 past Level 3 tournaments like the 2019 SEA Games.
“The [OQT] team was doomed from the very start,” Mascarinas continued. “Pa’no ka magpapadala sa OQT ng isang team na di man lang nakapaglaro as a team in a single tournament? Kukunin nila, but they didn’t show importance. May [of 2021] ang OQT natin. May rin sila nag-umpisa mag-ensayo. Anong aasahan mo?”
(The OQT team was doomed from the very start. How are you sending to the OQT a team who did not even play together in a single tournament? They took charge, but they didn’t show importance. The OQT was in May, and they also started practice only in May. What can you expect from that?)
“Nakakalungkot kasi nagmukha tayong mga tanga sa OQT. We’re a basketball country. Ang mga pinadala nating player ‘dun parang ‘di marunong ng 3×3. Pumunta doon para maglaro ng 1-on-1.”
(It’s saddening because we looked like fools in the OQT. We’re a basketball country, and we sent players who looked like they didn’t know how to play 3×3. They went there to play 1-on-1.)
It is worth noting, however, that it was Munzon, Chooks’ former undisputed top star, who was creating a majority of the plays in Graz, while Perez alternated isolations with him.
Munzon ended up as the top performing Filipino player with a 6.8 points per game average while Perez normed 3.8 markers
Despite the cellar-dwelling OQT finish, the decision for the final national team roster in the next OQT sometime in 2024 will still fall in the hands of SBP, barring major changes.
Mascariñas, however, has some advice for the country’s top basketball brass, and a final parting shot.
“I hope for the federation, wag niyo nang ulitin ‘yan. Sobrang kahihiyan ang ginawa niyo sa bayan natin.”
(I hope for the federation, don’t repeat what you did. You subjected the country to a massive embarrassment.) – Rappler.com