THE just-concluded Chooks to Go Pilipinas 3x3 bubble season had fans are still talking about the highly physical games and near scuffles, including the backstage commotion that marred Nueva Ecija's match against Butuan City.
But for league commissioner Eric Altamirano, the intensity of the 3x3 games is what makes this basketball discipline different.
"That’s what's really different about the 3x3 from 5-on-5, very physical sila. Kasi nga imagine, sa 5-on-5 may certain number of possessions, i-ta-times three mo yun sa 3x3," he said. "It’s a short game, fast game so yung intensity, yung emotions andyan. Hindi mo maiiwasan eh."
Asked if they intentionally applied the old ‘no harm, no foul’ rule to the league's 3x3 games, Altamirano, the MVP during University of the Philippines' run to its only UAAP title back in 1986, said the league merely adheres to Fiba rules.
“Actually we’re following the Fiba rules, sa dami ng possession talaga, maraming times na magtatamaan talaga yung players,” said the two-time PBA champion coach. “Hindi naman actually yan no harm no foul, we’re following existing Fiba 3x3 rules.”
The soft-spoken coach, who also led National University to its first UAAP championship in 60 years and coached Kiefer Ravena and Co. in the Nokia Under-16 men’s basketball team in 2008, said Filipinos need to toughen up and gain more strength if we want to excel in 3x3 internationally.
“Actually, mas grabe pa rin sa abroad, sa world tour, mas physical dun. Kaya lang medyo nagkakainitan yung ibang teams, first timer sa 3x3," he said. "Mas pisikal. Ang difference pag naglaro ka sa Europe, ang lalaki ng katawan ng kalaban mo, kaya tayo pag binangga natin sila, di tayo papansinin, kasi maliliit tayo.
“Tapos tayo pag ganun, napipikon tayo. In Europe, they’re allowing that,” he said.
Altamirano admitted that being at the forefront of 3x3 development in the country for the past years, he has learned to appreciate the sport more.
“Actually, I am enjoying what I am seeing kasi makikita mo passion ng players saka it brings you back to your roots in basketball. Di ba, almost all of us who play basketball has played 3 on 3 at least once in his lifetime?” he said.
“Very exciting yung game. Nakakatuwa. It’s something new, it’s basketball. I see this flourishing as this is another platform for the players to earn,” said Altamirano of a version of game which he described as the 45 rpm version to 5-on-5’s 33 1/3, referring to the speed of the old vinyl records.
Asked about Chooks to Go’s possible sanction on erring players who nearly engaged in a brawl at the tunnel in the final day on Sunday, Altamirano said he is still in the process of conducting an investigation into the matter.
It will be recalled that Nueva Ecija’s Gab Banal and Butuan counterpart Karl Dehesa's trash talking led to a backstage commotion where Dehesa’s teammate and fellow Fil-Am Chris De Chavez assaulting Banal and the Nueva Ecija team.
But the soft-spoken basketball mentor however stressed that the players have already buried the hatchet.
“Magkakaibigan naman yung mga yun. Siguro talagang nadala lang ng physicality ng laro tapos spur of the moment,” he said.