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Gilas 3x3 has good chance in Olympic qualifying leg

MANILA -- Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3x3 commissioner Eric Altamirano believes that Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 will have a good chance of at least making a deep run in the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) from March 18 to 22 in India.

"Compared to the other countries that will be part of the Olympic qualifier, at least we have a bigger chance of winning the games," Altamirano said in a thanksgiving press conference organized by the league on Saturday night at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Ortigas Center, Quezon City.

While he clarified that it is not "going to be a walk in the park" since global 3x3 strongholds Slovenia and France are part of Pool C where Gilas 3x3 is also in, Altamirano is bullish about the Philippine team.

"To be honest, hindi siya kasing-hirap ng ibang groups (it’s not that tough compared to other groups). It's doable," said Altamirano, a former champion coach in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Basketball Association.

"I think with the proper preparation, we can shock the world. I believe in these players. I think one year of experience will really help us prepare for the Olympic qualifiers,” he added.

As part of the gear-up for the OQT, Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3x3 will begin the 2020 President's Cup in January, while a training camp for the national team pool overseas featuring tune-up games are also in place.

As per FIBA eligibility rules, the lineup of the Gilas 3x3 team will be chosen from the top 50 players locally with two slots specifically to be chosen from the Top 10, essentially meaning the pool will come from the players of the Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3x3 since they have been actively playing in higher level events.

Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Santi Santillan, Karl Dehesa, Troy Rike, Dylan Ababou, Chris De Chavez, Franky Johnson, and Leo De Vera, who were present in the said presser, are the prime candidates for the two Top 10 spots for Gilas 3x3.

Altamirano, though, did not discount the idea of bolstering the team with players from the PBA pending a discussion with FIBA to clarify eligibility matters.

The first three conferences of the recently concluded inaugural season were declared FIBA 3x3 Quests, designated as Level 7 with the final legs per tournament named Level 8 Quest Finals.

The top performing teams eventually barged their way to numerous Level 9 Challengers and two Level 10 World Tour Masters.

With that said, the participating clubs and their players amassed a ton of points enough to land themselves inside the Top 50.

Mainly due to the Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3x3, the Philippines rose mightily in the men's ranking from number 60 before its inception in February to number 20 as of Thursday, well within the Top 24 cutoff for the OQT.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) sees the successful efforts of Chooks 3x3 as a huge achievement.

"It is a super big deal," said SBP director for operations Butch Antonio.

"Congratulations to Chooks-To-Go, to the players. If it weren't for you and your efforts, we will not be able to be given a chance to dream again. You are keeping the dream alive," he added. (PNA)

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