Munzon, Gilas 3×3 team shake off rust in ‘very productive’ camp
MANILA, Philippines — Joshua Munzon felt right at home when Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 held a seven-day camp at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna last week.
“I definitely can say that it felt natural,” said Munzon, the top-ranked 3×3 player in the country. “Just going out there was like riding a bike. I can’t say it was easy but we were able to shake off some rust.”
Southeast Asian Games gold medalists CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa as well as Karl Dehesa and Santi Santillan, the sixth and eighth-ranked players in the country, respectively, were also part of the camp. Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas 3×3 basketball program director Ronnie Magsanoc, who will serve as head coach of the team, conducted the drills.
The training was in preparation for the 2021 FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament which takes place from May 26-30 in Graz, Austria.
Though the first half of the camp only lasted for seven days, Munzon said the twice-a-day sessions they had were both brutal and fruitful.
“It was very productive and we were able to accomplish a lot. Good to be around a lot of people after being locked out for so long,” said the 6-foot-4 gunner out of Long Beach, California, who was the first overall pick by Terrafirma in the PBA Draft last March.
“We were able to shake the rust off and have an idea on what our offense and defense will be.”
The team left the bubble last Saturday but will be returning later this week. Munzon said the second week will be crucial in terms of building the squad’s chemistry and conditioning.
“I just think we just continue to build on what we have been working on, the chemistry and just be better,” he continued as No. 2 Alvin Pasaol is set to join them as well.
Gilas 3×3 faces Slovenia and Qatar on May 26 before taking on France and the Dominican Republic on May 28 in the OQT.
Having faced the world’s best in FIBA 3×3’s pro circuit, Munzon is fully aware of the quality of the opposition.
This time around, however, he knows there will be more pressure on his shoulders as only three teams will advance to the Tokyo Olympics.
“This is very big,” said the 26-year-old. “I can say that this is the biggest opportunity I have had in my career. Truly a huge honor and the possibility of being in the Olympics is something that I never thought I would be in.”
“I’m very grateful to boss Al [Panlilio], boss Butch [Antonio], and coach Ronnie for keeping this OQT dream alive. We all know how hard it is to train in this pandemic but they were able to do it,” he added. “It’s amazing to be part of this and to be in this position. We hope to make the country proud.”