APART from seeing themselves compete as professionals, teams taking part in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup will see the stakes get higher with the prize money increased.

In a release, league founder Ronald Mascarinas said they have made the decision to increase the prize money to help the Philippine men’s national 3×3 basketball team prepare for the 2021 FIBA 3X3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Under the setup, besides the P100,000 top prize for each of the first four legs of the President’s Cup, the team that will face Family’s Brand Sardines-Zamboanga City Chooks — which consists of Philippine no. 1 player Joshua Munzon, no. 2 Alvin Pasaol, no. 5 Troy Rike, and no. 6 Santi Santillan — in the finals will also bring home the same amount.

Zamboanga City, however, has to make it to the finals of the country’s first-ever professional 3×3 league for the added incentive to take effect.

If not, the first-place team will bag P100,000 while the second and third-placed squad will pocket P30,000 and P20,000, respectively, in the tournament which is ranked level seven by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

“This season of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 is really to help our national team get ready for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria next year. We can’t just let them train without actually facing competition. It won’t make sense,” said Mr. Mascariñas, referring to the national squad which also includes Philippine Basketball Association players CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa.

“But we also have to reward the teams that have taken the time and effort to face them. That is why we raised the stakes for our first conference,” he added.

Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 recently solidified its standing as the home of three-on-three basketball in the country after getting the nod from the Games and Amusements Boars to operate as a professional league.

The President’s Cup powered by TM is tentatively set to open its curtains on Oct. 2 at the Inspire Academy in Laguna with 12 teams competing.

The second leg immediately takes place on Oct. 4. Legs 3 and 4 are set for on Oct. 16 and 18, respectively.

The grand finals, which has a P1-million prize for the champion, P300,000 for the runner-up, and P100,000 for the third-place finisher, will happen on Nov.  7.

Aside from Zamboanga City, the other teams competing are Uling Roasters-Butuan City, Bacolod-Masters Sardines, Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, Palayan City Capitals, Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes MLV, Porac Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas, Bicol 3×3 Pro, Pasig Sta. Lucia Realtors, Saranggani Marlins, Pagadian City Rocky Sports Valientes, and a team backed by Petra Cement.

To ensure its success, the league said it is operating in strict compliance with safety and health protocols set by the government relative to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Currently teams are doing workouts and are awaiting approval from the government to conduct scrimmages. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo