NEWLY recognized professional league Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 recently got a new partner in championing homegrown talents in cellular service brand Touch Mobile (TM).

Sharing the burgeoning league’s vision for local basketball and push for Filipino pride, TM said the opportunity to be part of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 was hard to pass up on.

The two groups’ partnership begins with the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup, which is tentatively set to begin next month, where TM will be a sponsor. “TM is one with the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup in championing the talents of our local players and bringing them to the international stage,” said Kristelle Dizon, Globe VP for Consumer Mobile Business, in a release.

“We continue to look for ways to help rekindle the passion of fans for basketball games by supporting Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup online. This will allow fans to watch and support their favorite teams while staying safe at home,” she added.

As a league, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 has been steadily carving a niche in the local hoops scene, particularly in three-on-three basketball.

The first-of-its-kind league, it took root early last year with the goal of helping the country get enough FIBA 3×3 points to book a spot in the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games, where 3×3 basketball is making its debut.

It succeeded in its immediate goal as the Chooks-to-Go backed squad earned a slot in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament happening in May next year in Austria. The team is hoping to go deeper and make its way to the rescheduled Tokyo Games in the middle of 2021.

Along the way, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 hosted a number of tournaments, something it aims to continue and build on now that it is a professional league.

For its first season as a pro league, 12 teams are set to compete, namely: 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 Petra Cement.

The 12th squad is the Family’s Brand Sardines-Zamboanga City Chooks 3X3 team composed of Philippines’ top basketball players Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Santi Santillan, and Troy Rike, in the finals. Its participation is geared towards preparing for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year.

The President’s Cup was originally targeted to begin on Oct. 2 in a “semi-bubble” setup at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

Under the semi-bubble, players and staff will be holed up inside the tournament venue for four days for the first two legs of the competition.

Unfortunately, such a setup did not get the nod of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in relation to existing protocols amid prevailing conditions with the coronavirus pandemic.

The league has since recalibrated its push and is instead doing a full bubble, with each conference taking place for 15 days inside Inspire.

It has written anew to the IATF for it to be allowed to proceed with its season on schedule and is just awaiting a response. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo