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Mascariñas looks forward to "endgame" of making Tokyo Olympics after PH clinches OQT spot

Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3x3 owner Ronald Mascariñas is elated after the Philippines qualified for the OQT. Chooks-To-Go (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3x3 league owner Ronald Mascariñas may be the happiest guy to react to the news that the Philippines will have a participating team in the FIBA 3x3 OQT next March in India.

[Related Story: PH qualifies for 1st FIBA 3x3 Men's OQT]

"We are extremely happy with this development," Mascariñas said in a statement on Friday night, shortly after it was announced in Utsunomiya, Japan that Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 will play in the men's division of the said tournament.

Considering how the Philippines 3x3 community, mainly the Chooks 3x3 league, had to grind it out to qualify, Mascariñas has all the reasons to be this joyful.

Prior to the start of the national 3x3 league last February, the Philippines was at number 60 in the men's rankings, way outside of the Top 24 cutoff to qualify for the OQT or even the Olympics outright.

But nine months—and four conferences—after, the country jumped to as high as 20th place as per the latest FIBA 3x3 rankings that was released right after the announcement, well within the cutoff.

Aside from the staging of the league, also helping the cause are Philippine teams making the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters like Pasig Chooks and Balanga Chooks, some others taking part in Challengers, and even the country's hosting of a Challenger and a Super Quest, the first of its kind.

"We could not have done it without the combined efforts of everyone," Mascariñas continued. "We would like to thank the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas headed by chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan and president Al Panlilio, the numerous private promoters, all the players from Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3, and, of course, the Filipino people who supported us for the last nine months."

However, the job is not yet done.

"The goal is to not just make it to the OQT. The endgame is to make it to Tokyo," Mascariñas added.

He then vowed, "We are going all out to prepare our national team for this and we hope that everyone joins us in this journey."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno