What started out as a dream has finally turned into reality as the groundbreaking Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 is now a professional league, following the approval of the Games and Amusement Board.
The historic development was made public Wednesday in a special announcement streamed via Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas’ Facebook page, 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, we have accepted the interest of Chooks-to-Go 3×3 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 3×3, to become a professional league,” Altamirano expressed.
The first-of-its-kind league, founded by Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas, was established early last year with the goal of helping the country rake in enough FIBA 3×3 points to realize the Olympic dream.
And all its efforts did not go in vain. In just a span of months, the country made it to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will be held next year in Vienna, Austria following the postponement of the Tokyo Games due to the 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. 16 lang naman yung nag-qualify and we were one of them. It only shows that Filipinos can excel in this, considering na maliliit tayo. I don’t think height really matters when it comes to 3×3,” said Altamirano.
But now that it has turned professional, the league will not just help the 3×3 cause in the country but will serve as another viable platform for the Filipino hooper to aspire for as well.
“This will provide our local players the opportunity to explore possibilities as a professional career in the 3×3 league,” said Altamirano. “Gusto namin maging something aspirational for young 3×3 players.”
“Siguro iisipin ng iba, hindi ako pwede sa five-on-five, so there’s another platform that they can really aspire to become a basketball player. And by having a pro league sa 3×3, then there’s something na meron pala akong pupuntahan if I start playing the 3×3 at an early age,” added the seasoned mentor, who has been coaching 3×3 for so long.
With this, the Philippines has joined the likes of Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and majority of European countries that have its own 3×3 pro league, something that Altamirano is extremely thrilled about.
But beyond being a platform, Altamirano strongly believes that finally having a 3×3 pro league will further help the Philippines in its aim of becoming a force to be reckoned with in the global 3×3 scene.
“‘Yung pagiging professional ng Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 will help strengthen our drive in becoming a dominant force in the 3×3 sport all over the world,” Altamirano said.
Chooks 3×3 is home to the Top 10 3×3 players in the country in Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Dylan Ababou, Karl Dehesa, Santi Santillan, Jaypee Belencion, Chris De Chavez, Ryan Monteclaro, Gab Banal, and Leo De Vera.
Munzon is very much excited to be part of history anew since he was among those who has been there right from the very start of the 3×3 renaissance in the country spearheaded by Chooks-to-Go.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s definitely a step in the right direction in growing the game in the Philippines,” he said. “It’s pretty cool, from when we started the first 3×3 league in the Philippines to now that we’re turning pro.”