Having been in the PBA for nearly 10 years, Ronnie Matias wasn’t shy in admitting that 3×3 basketball is something new for him.
The 35-year-old played three-a-side for the first time last Sunday, when he suited up for Zark’s Jawbreakers-Quezon City in the second leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup.
“Oo, nakakapanibago,” said Matias. “Ang daming tawag sa akin, traveling.
“First time ko maglaro ng 3×3.”
But once he got his groove, Matias was a force to be reckoned – with especially from underneath. He played a huge factor in Quezon City’s 21-16 win over Zamboanga Valientes.
For Matias, the efforts of his much younger teammates Paulo Castro, Clint Doliguez, and Kib Montalbo were infectious, and pushed him to deliver well.
“Parang bumalik ako sa pagkabata eh. Tuwang-tuwa din ako na kahit paano, nakatulong ako sa Zark’s Burger-QC.
“Ang sarap kakampi ng mga bata. Takbo sila ng takbo, so nahahawa ka,” expressed the three-time PBA Champion. “Parang bata ka rin.”
Aside from his teammates, another factor that helped Matias familiarize himself with 3×3 were the lessons he learned playing under decorated head coach Yeng Guiao.
Guiao picked Matias for the now-defunct Burger King franchise in the 2009 PBA Draft; he also brought Matias over when he went to Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
“Tulad kay coach Yeng, kailangan marunong kang lumaro kahit anong role,” said Matias, a staple for Guiao’s teams during the early 2010s.
Still, even if he’s taking baby steps in 3×3, his vast experience easily makes him the leader of Zark’s. Now, Matias hopes he can help his team in the coming legs of the first-of-its-kind league.
“Sana pumasok kami doon. Gusto ko rin makatulong sa mga bata.”