CALAMBA – The fancied 3×3 basketball quartet of Alvin Pasaol, Joshua Munzon, Troy Rike and Santi Santillan hardly missed a beat despite a long seven-month lay-off.
“It’s about trusting each other. May tiwala kami sa isa’t isa, hindi lang yung one man to play lang. Chemistry lang,” said Pasaol after helping Zamboanga City-Family’s Brand Sardines in winning the preseason tournament of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup powered by TM Monday.
No wonder, Pasaol and company will be a marked team when the second season’s first leg opens at 1 p.m. today at the INSPIRE Sports Academy bubble inside the National University-Laguna campus here.
Zamboanga City topped surprise finalist Bacolod-Master Sardines, 21-17, with Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 members Munzon and Pasaol combining for 12 points in the clincher of the warm-up tournament.
“Yung panalong ito makakatulong sa regular games talaga,” said Pasaol, who is currently ranked second among the country’s best in halfcourt play.
“Maganda simula namin, may mga lapses kami. Pero kailangan naming mag-improve or manood ng video ulit. Kailangang i-compile ang mga mali namin para sa next game namin, hindi namin gagawin iyon.”
Zamboanga City actually suffered a shock 19-21 loss to Bicol-Paxful SMDC 3×3 Pro in pool play, but was able to rediscover its deadly since that defeat.
“Sobrang taas ng tingin ng dahil team to beat kami. Masyadong complacent kami noong nangyari na iyon so nag-usap-usap kami pagkatapos ng game na iyon na huwag nating ulitin iyon kasi napaulanan kami ng two points kaya ayun,” said Pasaol.
Expected to make a major threat in Zamboanga’s dominance in the new season is Nueva Ecija, as the Rice Vanguards had a former 3×3 youth campaigner in Juan Gomez de Liaño to boost their stock.
In the semifinals, Zamboanga eliminated Nueva Ecija, 21-14.
“Sobrang lakas din ng Nueva Ecija kasi nandoon si Juan. So dagdag sa kanila si Juan. Sobrang lakas nila pero nadala lang kami sa experience about sa game,” said Pasaol.
Nueva Ecija, which survived Butuan City in a foul-fest quarterfinals duel, placed third.
Before the Finals loss, Bacolod was actually just as impressive, it simply just fell short in this tournament that has Gatorade as its official hydration partner.
Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors was the other semifinalist.
All 12 teams will duke it out anew in the first leg today and then three more legs every other day inside the bubble. The squads will be divided into four groups in each leg with the top two advancing into the quarterfinals.
From there, knockout games will determine the champion.
The Grand Finals of the FIBA-endorsed tournament slated for Oct. 30.
Meanwhile, league president Ronald Mascariñas is grateful that action is back in action after a seven-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are all glad that sports is back. May it continue to be so,” Mascariñas said, as the now pro league also thanked Games and Amusement Board for making the restart at the bubble possible.
Also lined up are the TM Slam Dunk Competition, with high-flyers David Carlos, Jesus Manay and Darwin Cantong competing. The league’s best snipers will also take part in the TM Two-Point Shootout.