THE first leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup unfurls on Oct. 21 with 12 teams from different parts of the country looking to do well and be crowned champion.
Among the teams competing in the new season of the now-recognized professional 3×3 league are the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards and the Zamboanga Valientes.
The Rice Vanguards are hoping to make waves with the help of 3×3 basketball-returning player Juan Gomez de Liaño, who will be teaming up with veterans Gab Banal, Jai Reyes, and Tonino Gonzaga.
Mr. Gomez de Liaño of the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons is no stranger in 3×3 basketball, having represented the country in the sport in FIBA-sanctioned events before.
Now back in 3×3, the explosive guard said he is excited and looking forward to helping the Rice Vanguards go deep in the two-week-long tournament.
“I was introduced to 3×3 basketball when I was eight or nine years old. I would play 3×3 with grown-ups; I grew up playing in the streets. You see everyone in the streets. They won’t be playing basketball. We’re playing 3×3 and that’s the OG,” Mr. Gomez de Liaño said.
Adding, “We joined this tournament with one mindset—to win.”
Meanwhile, the Valientes are banking their campaign on an all-Zamboangueño roster, led by former Philippine Basketball Association player Rudy Lingganay.
Joining him in the team are Gino Jumaoas, Darwin Cordero, Das Esa, Arar De Leon, Med Salim and 3×3 veteran Jon Rebollos.
“This is a big opportunity for the Valientes to be able to play in the first professional 3×3 in the country, and we want it to be more meaningful since we are the only team that will represent Zamboanga City with all the players born in Zamboanga City,” said Junnie Navarro, the son of team co-owner Cory Navarro.
The Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 Philippine Cup will be played under a “bubble” setup at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, wittingly referred to as “Calambubble,” in strict compliance with government health and safety protocols in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo