With the dream of making it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), with the help of Chooks-to-Go, is spearheading a country-wide search for a full-time 3x3 team.
SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios said 3x3 has been the foundation of Philippine basketball and that the country should be at the forefront of the sport's development in the region.
"We should take a lead role in Asia because we popularized it even before the term 3x3 was coined. We played it everywhere," Barrios said during a press conference on Tuesday.
"For us to make a significant rise to the rankings, there are formalities. We have to register all the players who compete in 3x3. The more often we play in the grassroots and the more we register, the more effect in our rankings. Chooks-to-Go is the perfect partner because we can have tournaments where they are present. Second is participating in the international events of FIBA 3x3."
Eight teams will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as compared to the 12 teams that will make it there in five-on-five. Aside from the rankings, there will be Olympic Qualifying Tournaments that will be held, including a special one for countries that were not able to qualify for the basketball competitions of the London and Rio Olympics.
"The FIBA 3x3 Director Alex Sanchez has been telling us that there is no reason that we don't become a country to be reckoned with when Mongolia which is not even a basketball country, ranks up there in 3x3," added Barrios.
Meanwhile, Ronald Mascarinas, President and General Manager of Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc., said 3x3 basketball has been "very close to our hearts" and is "the foundation of of Philippine basketball."
"We see great potential in making it to the 2020 Olympics. We're ranked 43rd but to rise to the top eight is still possible. We will find the best talent for our 3x3 basketball team and Kobe Paras will be the face of the program," he said.
Mascarinas added that PBA players might not be the best candidates to join the 3x3 team.
"We want a full-time team," he reasoned. "So they might not be available in the times we need them because of their responsibilities with their mother team so we will look all over the country for the best available talent to join Kobe (Paras)."
Mascarinas said that they have already laid the groundwork for the nationwide search for 3x3 players who may not be in the radar right now.
"The campaign will be headed by Kobe and we will have a national search who will be the other members of the team. We have already scheduled tournaments and try outs. The SBP has 16 offices all over the country and they will will make sure that we'll find talented 3x3 players."
Paras acknowledged the rapid rise of the sport based on his previous experiences in 3x3 tournaments.
"Joining past competitions made me realize that 3x3 is really something big. It's going to be a great journey for us," said Paras, who will be the face of the program.
However, Barrios noted that since Paras is under the residency rules of the UAAP, they will be asking for the approval of the UAAP Board before he can be sent to the FIBA 3x3 Under-23 World Cup in Xi'an, China which will be held from October 3 to 7.