Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 contingent focuses on toughness

Manok ng Bayan in Doha (3:15)

Chooks-to-Go Pasig and Balanga have arrived in Qatar for the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Doha Masters. (3:15)

DOHA, Qatar -- It was just a few months ago when Alvin Pasaol started learning how to play 3x3 basketball. Although he isn't the biggest nor the fastest, Pasaol found a way to compete and become one of the top players in the country.

Now he's ready to take on some of the world's best at the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Doha Masters 2019. He is banking on the same ploy that made him successful with the 1Bataan Risers in the first Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 competitions.

"In 3x3 basketball, when you give way to the physicality of your opponents, you lose. That's the reality," Pasaol said as both Chooks-to-Go Balanga and Chooks-to-Go Pasig wrapped up their short practice at the Katara Amphitheater.

"We'll be baking on our toughness because we'll do our best to win even if we are one of the lowest-ranked teams here. We've done our best to prepare for this competition with the time that we had, but to be honest it's still sinking in for us because we never thought we'd be competing at a tournament this big this soon."

It was the end of a long day for the players representing the Philippines, one that started when they landed in Doha at 4:30 a.m. after a nine-hour flight. Following breakfast and a short rest, they paid a visit to the Philippine Embassy, where Ambassador Alan Timbayan welcomed the delegation.

There, the ambassador said that even if they only had little time, they did their best to tell as many Filipinos as possible to support the two teams competing in the Doha Masters 2019, which will be played Thursday and Friday.

Pasaol is part of Chooks-to-Go Balanga alongside his original teammate Leonard Santillan and aided by 3x3 veteran Karl Dehesa and import Travis Franklin. The Philippines was fortunate to get two entries in the field of 12 alongside powerhouses Serbia and Slovenia and host Qatar.

On the other end, Chooks-to-Go Pasig is composed of top Filipino 3x3 players Joshua Munzon and Taylor Statham, with imports Nikola Pavlovic and Angelo Tsagarakis.

Assistant coach Anton Altamirano said having two teams here is beneficial as it allows them to practice against live opposition.

"We can run plays all we want, but it is still different when we run plays going up against defenders because you get a feel of what it really looks like in the real game," Altamirano said. "Having two teams also worked out for us because each team was only given a 15-minute practice time but we were able to practice together and do more work for 30 minutes."

Aside from being able to push each other in practice, having a bigger group has also allowed the mood to be lighter during the trip, which Munzon said helps with the chemistry.

"Having two imports will require a lot of adjustments coming from us that even with the short training schedule, we still have a lot of time to talk to our teammates and get to know them and get to know how they want to play," Munzon said.

"We've prepared really well for this because we want to take advantage of the opportunity," he added. "We never thought we'd be here but we got here, so we need to make the most out of the opportunity and earn the respect of some of the top 3x3 teams in the world."

Pasaol, Munzon, and the rest of the delegation are hoping to get the support of as many Filipinos as possible because it pumps up the players to perform better.

The Chooks-to-Go teams will each play in one of four groups of three teams. Chooks-to-Go Balanga is in Pool C with Riga Ghetto of Latvia and Moscow Inanomo of Russia. Chooks-to-Go Pasig is in Pool A with Liman of Serbia and Katara of Qatar.