Pasaol laments SEAG 3x3 snub, shifts focus to Olympic bid
MANILA, Philippines – The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) recently released its Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 pool for the 2019 SEA Games.
Notably omitted from the all-PBA list, however, were players from the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 league, the country's first-ever league dedicated to the sport that houses more than 95% of the FIBA’s top 100 players from the federation.
Alvin Pasaol, the Philippines’ top 2 player behind top-ranked Joshua Munzon, admitted his dismay on the missed opportunity to represent the country in the SEA Games. However, he now has his sights set on the bigger task at hand: playing for the flag in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Qualifier Tournaments (OQT).
“'Yun naman talaga yung campaign namin [para] sa OQT,” he said during a sit-down interview on Thursday, September 26. “Medyo nalungkot ako kasi di ako makakalaro sa SEA Games pero okay lang. Na-file na yung decision at basta sa amin, OQT kami maglalaro."
(Our campaign is really for the OQT. I got a bit sad that I won’t be able to play in the SEA Games, but that’s okay. The decision has been filed and for us, we’ll just play in the OQT.)
"Personally, I'm sad for the players because I know they are expecting to represent the country and they've sacrificed a lot for this sport,” added Chooks 3x3 league owner Ronald Mascariñas.
“It is their pride and honor to serve their country. But this should not distract us from our ultimate objective, which is to qualify in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."
According to SBP president Al Panlilio, the main reason for selecting PBA players for the regional meet is that he believes the best way to popularize the sport is by fielding players from the country's premier 5-on-5 league.
"As you very well know, we are continuously expanding the growth and pushing for the continued popularity of 3x3 in our country and the best way to promote it is to utilize our PBA superstars as our ambassadors," Panlilio said.
When asked to comment on this, Mascariñas said: "Whatever path SBP chooses, whether we agree with it or not, we should all bear in mind that we are one with the federation with a common interest and that is to bring honor for our country through the sport of basketball. “We respect the decision of SBP and will continue to wholeheartedly support the basketball program of SBP."
Although Chooks 3x3 players were snubbed for the SEA Games campaign, at least two in the top 10 are still a lock to play in the OQT, owing to a FIBA rule that two of a maximum 4 federation players must come from the top 10 of the FIBA rankings.
Right now, the top 10 is composed entirely of Chooks players, with Munzon, Pasaol and former La Salle big man Santi Santillan leading the pack.
With Chooks-to-Go being the driving force for the country in the 3x3 rankings, the Philippines rose from 59th in the world last February to the top 24 in just a span of 7 months.
Moreover, the top teams in the Chooks league have competed in numerous high-level FIBA 3x3 tournaments across the world to expose the players to top-level 3x3 competitions.
Having gained experience, Mascariñas wants to share the knowledge that the players in his league have gained by inviting the 12 players from the Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 pool to join the tournament this October to help prepare the national team for the SEAG.
"[Given] that most of them have limited to no experience playing 3x3 at a high level, we're inviting them to join us in the Chooks-to-Go Melmac Cup that can serve as tune-up games for our national 3x3 pool," shared Mascariñas.
"Players from Chooks to Go Pilipinas 3x3 are eager to share their experience and learnings competing in a number of high levels FIBA 3x3 international tournaments across the globe in the last 7 months to help prepare the PBA 3x3 pool for the SEAG.”
Besides helping out the national team, the Chooks-to-Go MelMac Cup, which is a level 5 FIBA 3x3 tournament, can help rack up points for the country to secure its place in the top 24 in the world rankings – the cutoff point needed for qualification in the OQT. – Rappler.com