MANILA – Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 commissioner Eric Altamirano thanked the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) for giving his league the professional status it deserves.
In a virtual press conference on Wednesday night, the Chooks 3×3 league announced that it has just turned pro.
“I’d like to thank the Games and Amusements Board headed by Chairman Baham Mitra for allowing our sports organization, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 to become a professional league. You know, this will provide our local players the opportunity to explore possibilities as a professional career in the 3×3,” Altamirano said.
The multi-titled coach added that the latest development to the league is a testament to how this basketball variation has evolved locally and even internationally over the years.
“We all know that 3×3 is fast becoming a popular sport, not only here in the Philippines but all over the world as well,” Altamirano said.
The Chooks 3×3 cagefest was founded last year for the sole purpose of compiling needed FIBA 3×3 points for the Philippines to qualify at least for the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).
After a full season consisting of four conferences, the Philippine hosting of the first-ever FIBA 3×3 Super Quest and the FIBA 3×3 Manila Challenger, and numerous appearances of local clubs in the international 3×3 circuit, Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 booked a spot in the OQT slated next year in Austria.
“It only shows that Filipinos can excel in this league, considering na maliliit tayo (that we are short),” Altamirano further said.
With his league now a pro, Altamirano hopes that this development will pave the way for more hardcourt heroes to carve a career in basketball.
“Just like in 5-on-5, I believe that 3×3 will be another platform for our players to showcase their talent in this sport of basketball. Yung pagiging professional league ng Chooks-to-Go 3×3 Pilipinas (Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 now being pro) will help strengthen our drive in becoming a dominant force in the 3×3 sport all over the world,” he quipped.
How about MPBL?
One glaring observation from the inaugural staging of Chooks 3×3 is that most of the players also suit up in the 5-on-5 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
Some MPBL teams, like reigning champions San Juan Knights, Bataan Risers, and Mindoro Tamaraws, even sent representatives to Chooks 3×3.
Even national team member Alvin Pasaol also sees action in the MPBL for Zamboanga.
Now that Chooks 3×3 is officially pro, this could create a dilemma on whether MPBL players can still join the 3×3 cagefest considering that the MPBL is not yet GAB-sanctioned.
Mitra clarified that the Chooks 3×3 players can still join the MPBL provided that they get a clearance from their mother clubs.
“Before they play for any amateur league, they need to seek permission from the league commissioner and also from us,” Mitra said. “We’re here to assist them so pasabi lang sa amin (please inform us).”
Altamirano added, “I already consulted Baham about this that we only apply to become a professional league only in terms of the 3×3… We only applied to professionalize our 3×3 league, not 5-on-5.”
Mitra further added that the pro licenses the Chooks 3×3 players will get are different from the ones given to Philippine Basketball Association players and Filipino players competing in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
This means Gilas 3×3 member Joshua Munzon, who played in the ABL before, essentially got a brand new license.
However, Mitra reiterated the possible repercussions of professional athletes competing in tournaments not sanctioned by GAB like injuries or even getting involved in commotions.
“Nakakatakot eh. May mga kontrata sila sa mga managers nila, sa mga teams nila. Paano na lang yung professional career nila (This could be frightening. They have contracts with their managers and their teams. What could happen to their professional careers)?” Mitra quipped.
According to Altamirano, the second season of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3, which will have three conferences, will tentatively begin in the third week of September and will run until February, just in time before Gilas 3×3 goes full throttle in their buildup for the FIBA 3×3 OQT.
He added that there will be 12 teams per conference.
However, unlike last season, where the legs are staged inside SM malls, the league will hold its games in a “bubble” similar to the one being imposed by the National Basketball Association due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We’re gonna enter the first day afternoon. Right before we enter, there’s going to be a series of testings so this probably five to seven days prior to the entry to the bubble. Magkakaroon ng PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and mga players and then on the day itself, we’re gonna have a rapid test so that will ensure us that whoever goes in to the bubble will be safe,” Altamirano bared the protocols Chooks 3×3 set amid the pandemic.
He added that an “emergency contingency plan” has been put in place for players tested positive for Covid-19.
Altamirano then bared, “We have plans of getting a doctor that is recommended to me by UP (University of the Philippines). We will be using him as our lead doctor to be able to supervise and oversee all the protocols we need to implement in the league.”
The first leg, according to Altamirano, will be played on a Friday, and the players will undergo another rapid testing on Saturday to determine who will be cleared for the second leg the day after.
“[On] Sunday night right after the second leg, everybody will get out of the bubble. After that, every two weeks, we go inside the bubble. We will continue to apply the safety protocol in terms of testing before going inside the bubble,” he further said.
The games will be played inside the Inspire Sports Academy within National University’s Calamba campus.
“We have to find an isolated area where we can do the bubble, and what a better place to hold it than Inspire Sports Academy,” Altamirano continued. “It’s a world-class campus. Kompleto na. May hotel sa loob. (It has complete amenities. There is a hotel inside). [It’s a] really nice facility.”
He then said that players inside the bubble are restricted from going outside until the second leg is done. Ivan Stewart Saldajeno /PNA – northboundasia.com