THE Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 team enters the Calamba bubble on Saturday to restart its preparations for its campaign in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The six-man national team will proceed to the Inspire Sports Academy after getting the results of their respective RT-PCR test.
The Filipinos will train in the bubble for at least eight days before departing for Graz, Austria for the May 26 to 30 qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics.
The team departs one week before the event and will have to observe quarantine protocols which unfortunately, shortened its preparation period.
But the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is still observing whether it can prolong the training period, depending on the day-to-day changes with regards to both quarantine period and health protocols.
The San Miguel duo of CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa banner the 3×3 squad, along with PBA rookies Joshua Munzon (Terrafirma) and Alvin Pasaol (Meralco).
Rain or Shine rookie Santi Santillan and Karl Dehesa serve as alternates.
“The rest of the world has been playing for a long time now so we have a lot of room to make up for,” said Dehesa as the team appeared in the Saturday program Power & Play of former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala.
The Gilas 3×3 unit is trying to be the first Philippine basketball team in almost 50 years to qualify for the Olympics.
The Philippine 5-on-5 squad led by William ‘Bogs’ Adornado, Jimmy Mariano, Freddie Webb, among others, was the last Filipino cage team to see action in the Olympics held in 1972 in Munich, Germany.
“I think all of us have been raring for the chance to get out there and make that a reality. It’s been a dream for all of us to make it to the Olympics and I think this is a big opportunity for us and for our country,” said Munzon, the Philippines top-ranked 3×3 player.
“It hasn’t sunk in at all. I didn’t really think about that. It’s cool, make history. Not everyone can do it, and it’s not built for everyone,” said Tautuaa, a key cog of the 3×3 team that won the gold in the inaugural staging of the event in the last Southeast Asian Games.
“If we can land ourselves in it, awesome. I want that. It’s here, it’s on the paper for us. We just have to take it.”
It wouldn’t be easy, however.
The Philippines is bracketed in Pool C and bracketed with France, Slovenia, Qatar, and Dominican Republic.
It opens its campaign on May 26 against Qatar and Slovenia, and following a rest day, takes on Dominican Republic and France on the 28th.
Only three out of the 20 countries competing will clinch a berth in the Olympics, where 3×3 is making its debut.
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