By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 men’s team temporarily broke camp at the weekend to work on the documents needed for its participation in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) but it is out to finish its training strong when it resumes this week.
Set to see action in the 3×3 OQT in Austria later this month, the national team, composed of the country’s top 3-on-3 players and Philippine Basketball Association stars, spent eight straight days in its training “bubble” at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, before taking a break.
It treks back to camp in the middle of this week to wrap up its preparation before flying to the tournament in Graz where it goes for one of the three Olympic tickets up for grabs.
So far, team coach Ronnie Magsanoc shared that they are satisfied with the way things have panned out for them in the training bubble despite not having the full complement of their roster.
Incoming PBA rookie Alvin Pasaol (Meralco) failed to join his teammates, namely, Joshua Munzon (Terrafirma), CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa (San Miguel), and reserves Leonard Santillan (Rain or Shine) and Karl Dehesa, in the first part of their training as he was not able to clear health and safety protocols on time.
But the country’s number two 3×3 player is now a go when training resumes, the team said.
Mr. Magsanoc lauded the players’ efforts to make up for lost time in preparation and commitment to their Olympic push.
“They’ve been off the court for the past six weeks because of the community quarantine, so we had to be patient until they got their legs underneath them. But so far, we like what we see and we’ll take what we can get,” the national 3×3 coach was quoted as saying by the official PBA website.
“With their commitment and sacrifice, I can say that the players are really all-in.”
Mr. Magsanoc, who is also Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) 3×3 program director, went on to say preparations will pick up as their departure nears and that they are looking to have the possible representation come tournament time.
He added the SBP has been fully supportive of the team and what it wants to accomplish.
“The SBP did its part to provide us with everything we needed including a safe training environment in the bubble and the team did its best to maximize the great opportunity to train and be together,” said Mr. Magsanoc.
In the OQT, the nationals play in the tough Pool C, which also has Slovenia (Europe Cup 2016 winner), France (second at Europe Cup 2019), Qatar (2014 World Champ), and the Dominican Republic.
Tournament format calls for each team playing the other four in their respective pools. The top two teams from each pool qualify for the crossover quarterfinals and then play knockout games all the way to the semifinals.
The semifinals and the third-place games will be known in the FIBA 3×3 OQT as the Olympic Ticket games.
Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 will first play Qatar on May 26 at 8 p.m. (Manila time) to be followed by the game against Slovenia at 9:45 p.m.
It will take a break the following day before resuming its campaign on May 28 against the Dominican Republic at 6 p.m. and France at 8 p.m.