MANILA, Philippines, July 30 ------ The Philippines now has its own professional 3-on-3 basketball league. Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas, the breakthrough 3x3 league in the country, gained professional status following the approval of the Games and Amusements Board. The development was announced Wednesday in an online press conference led by GAB chairman Baham Mitra and league commissioner Eric Altamirano. “We’d like to announce that in the board meeting of the Games and Amusement Board yesterday (Tuesday), we have accepted the interest of Chooks-to-Go 3x3 to turn professional,” Mitra said.
“I’d like to thank the Games and Amusement Board, headed by Chairman Baham Mitra, for allowing our sports organization, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3, to become a professional league,” Altamirano said. The league grew quickly since its creation early last year in a bold attempt to boost the country’s bid in qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics where the inaugural 3x3 event will be held. Through it, the Philippines piled up enough Fiba 3x3 points and was able to sneak its way into the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which was pushed back next year in Vienna, Austria following the postponement of the Summer Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I really believe that we Filipinos have a very strong chance of excelling in this sport. We all know what happened last year. For the first time, we were able to qualify for the Olympic Qualifiers. Only 16 qualified and we’re one of them,” said Altamirano. “It only shows that Filipinos can excel in this, considering we lack the size. I don’t think height really matters when it comes to 3x3.” With the league now professional, it provided aspiring Filipino basketball players a different career path and another platform to showcase their talents as well. “This will provide our local players the opportunity to explore possibilities as a professional career in the 3x3 league,” said Altamirano. “We want something aspirational for young 3x3 players.”
“So there’s another platform that they can really aspire to become a basketball player. And by having a pro league in 3x3, then there’s something that players could go to if they start playing the 3x3 at an early age,” added the former UAAP champion coach. The league is home to the top 10 3x3 players in the country Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Dylan Ababou, Karl Dehesa, Santi Santillan, Jaypee Belencion, Chris De Chavez, Ryan Monteclaro, Gab Banal, and Leo De Vera. “It’s pretty cool. It’s definitely a step in the right direction in growing the game in the Philippines,” Munzon said. “It’s pretty cool, from when we started the first 3x3 league in the Philippines to now that we’re turning pro.”