By WAYLON GALVEZ
Preparation shifts to high gear for members of the Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 men’s team which will see action in the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifier (OQT) in Graz, Austria from May 26 to 30.
The national team reentered the bubble training camp in Calamba, Laguna recently
with several things to fine tune before they depart this Sunday, May 23.
Members of the team are PBA players CJ Perez, Mo Tautuaa, Joshua Munzon, Leonard Santillan and Alvin Pasaol with Ronnie Magsanoc as coach.
“The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas did a tremendous job of collecting these talented players into one team so our job is to make sure we’ll have a cohesive unit,” said Magsanoc.
“We thank the SBP for giving us a safe training environment here so we can devote all our focus on our preparation for the qualifiers. There have been challenges along the way but we’re happy that the team is finally complete.”
The national team will take on Qatar and Slovenia on May 26, takes a break the following before facing the Dominican Republic and France on May 28 in Pool C.
Gilas is up for a tough battle since Slovenia is the fourth ranked national team in FIBA Men’s 3×3, led by one of the top players in the world in Simon Finzgar, while France is ranked 10th.
Meanwhile, the Philippines is at 20th spot, ahead of Qatar, which is at 26th,while Dominican Republic is at 33rd although Magsanoc understands that the two teams are no push-overs as well.
The top two teams from all four pools will qualify for the quarterfinals with the three podium finishers earning a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. The three qualifiers will join host team Japan along with China, Russia, and Serbia, who qualified outright because of the FIBA 3×3 ranking points.
“In terms of effort, I really could not ask for anything more from the players during our first week of training and they also did their best to build on that with our online training sessions,” said Magsanoc.
“Now it’s about bringing everything together and forming a team that we can be proud of, a team that can compete against the best in the world.”