Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 arrived in Graz, Austria minutes before midnight, Monday evening (Manila time).
The quintet of Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Santi Santillan, CJ Perez, and Mo Tautuaa — along with head coach Ronnie Magsanoc — endured a long 24-hour journey from Manila to the capital of Styria. There were no direct flights from the Philippines to Austria.
Leaving five minutes before midnight last Sunday, the SMART-backed squad had a layover in Dubai before flying to Austria on Monday afternoon.
Now, the team has to wait for its RT-PCR tests before it can take to the hardcourt of Hauptplatz for a practice session.
“The shared experience we had as a team will be big for us heading into the tournament,” said Magsanoc.
Challenges definitely made this team much stronger.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hampered the team’s prep for the global meet, forcing them to have online sessions from March to April.
Once the national teams were allowed to train, Gilas 3×3 entered the Inspire Sports Academy on May 1 but had to momentarily break camp to fix their papers. The first half of the camp did not have Pasaol, who needed to complete health and safety protocols.
Pool player Karl Dehesa was not able to join the team in the second half of the camp. Still, Gilas 3×3 was able to receive a much-needed assist from practice players Malick Diouf, Jason Brickman, Tonino Gonzaga, and Greg Flor.
Also helping out Magsanoc were Mo Gingerich and Benj Palarca.
The Philippines takes on Slovenia and Qatar on the 26th, before facing France and the Dominican Republic on the 28th. The top two teams in the four groups will advance to the knockout stage on May 30.
The top three teams will advance to the Tokyo Olympics.