Joshua Munzon and Alvin Pasaol admitted that it might take some adjustment on the players’ part now that they are about to resume preparations for the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament later this May in Graz, Austria.
The prestigious tournament was originally set to take place in March of last year until the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to its postponement to 2021, subsequently pausing Gilas Pilipinas 3×3’s preparations as well.
“I will say we have to take a little bit of adjustment,” Munzon told Radyo5’s Power and Play with Kom Noli Eala, Saturday.
“Sobrang hirap talaga i-turn on bigla. ‘Di ba na-stop tayo? ‘Yung pinaghirapan natin in almost two years na naglalaro tayo sa 3×3, natigil,” seconded Pasaol.
Gilas is slotted in Pool 3 of the OQT set from May 26-30 with Slovenia, France, Qatar, and the Dominican Republic. Only the top two teams from each of the four popols will advance to the knockout playoffs that have three Tokyo tickets at stake.
That, however, isn’t actually much of a concern, according to the country’s top two 3×3 players. After all, they’ve been playing in the halfcourt game since 2019, from Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 to the FIBA 3×3 pro circuit.
However, the last time they had played was back in November of 2020 during the 2021 FIBA 3×3 Doha World Tour Masters. Moreover, the last time the two had been with CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa dates all the way back to February of the same year when they were training with Stefan Stojacic.
“The past two years, we’ve been doing this 3×3. We’ve been taking the time to learn the game and I think from the first year we learned so much and even now we watch games and learn from our mistakes,” said Munzon.
“I think we’re a much wiser group of guys than we were when we first started playing 3×3 and I think that will benefit us overall.”
And both players are in unison that chemistry won’t be an issue, for they have already familiarized themselves with their new teammates in 30th Southeast Asian Games 3×3 gold medalists Tautuaa and Perez.
“We got a chance to practice last year before the pandemic really started, and we got a chance to build some chemistry,” Munzon said.
“You know, we have a selfless group of guys that are willing to defer to other guys whether some guys take shots or don’t take shots or whatever, we got a group of guys who’s willing to do what it takes to win.”
“Pare-parehas lang kami ng mindset na manalo kami tapos makapunta tayo sa Tokyo Olympics. Pagdating naman sa court wala kaming inggitan,” Pasaol said.
“Isa lang talaga goal namin — makabalik ang Pilipinas sa Olympics.”
Gilas 3×3 is bound to enter Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna for their bubble training, and the players can’t wait to buckle down to work.
“Sa tulong naman ng mga boss namin, — sina (SBP President) Boss Al Panlilio, sina Boss Butch [Antonio] — nagawan namin ng paraan na kahit ganitong pandemic, nakakapag-training kami,” a grateful Pasaol said,
“This is a good opportunity for us to get on the court together, and perfect that chemistry and build upon that. It may take a little adjustment at first for some of us but we all have one goal and we all know what it is,” Munzon added.