Historical Milestone for Cebu
BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - January 13, 2019 - 12:00am

Picture this. 3X3 basketball tournament. For yesterday: 1,111 boys. 277 teams. 444 games. 50 half-courts. One venue. All in one day. Today? 1,585 girls. 397 teams. 508 games. 50 half-courts. One venue. That's a total of 2,696 players, 674 teams, 952 games, 100 half-courts; all in two days. History in the making is history made. Records will be broken and more importantly, the Philippines will make a huge impact in the world of FIBA 3X3 basketball. In a story penned by Freeman’s sports editor Manny Villaruel, he wrote that “History beckons for Cebu sports as the Sisters of Mary School students will attempt to set a world record for the biggest three-on-three basketball event through the Chooks to Go Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Festival (SBP) 3X3 Basketball Festival.” True enough, we are all grateful to be part of history. Who wouldn’t?

 

The Chooks to Go SBP 3X3 Basketball Tournament is being played this weekend, with games played at SMS-Boystown in Minglanilla yesterday and at SMS-Girlstown in Talisay today. The event seeks to conduct the biggest ever Under 18 3X3 tournament recorded in the FIBA 3X3 world. At yesterday’s games, present to grace the momentous occasion were Chooks to Go President Ronald Mascariñas, SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios and Chooks to Go ambassadors Thirdy Ravena and Kobe Paras. They were welcomed by SMS-Boystown’s superior Sister Emelan Lee, SMS-Boystown sports director Van Halen Parmis and the entire student body of the school for the lesser privileged. The VIPs walked from the main gate of the school and paraded through the campus roads that were lined with SMS Boystown students clapping and chanting the Chooks to Go 3X3 / Manok ng Bayan cheer. High fives and handshakes were aplenty with the students excited to have come up close and personal with their idols. An exchange of flags and flag ceremony took place at the school flagpole before everyone proceeded to the gym for a program that had a mix of surprises. Teen-age singing sensation Sheena Belarmino sang for the body while rapper Mike Swift entertained the crowd by singing (and rapping) his original composition, the official Manok ng Bayan/Chooks to Go 3X3 theme song. The gym was converted to a concert scene for a moment before the speeches were delivered. And the biggest surprise of them all was when “Boss Ronald” Mascariñas (as he’s fondly called) turned over a commemorative check of P100,000 to the school. But that wasn’t a one-time donation. Moved by the warm reception and his experience with being with Boystown and Girlstown students for the past two days (yes, he arrived Thursday to look over the pre-event details), Boss Ronald pledged to donate P100,000 a month to the school, drawing another round of applause from everyone present.

Now it was time to set the record. Games kicked off under clear skies when original forecasts called for cloudy weather. Thanks to the prayers of all, the weather was perfect yesterday. Four legs or mini tournaments were conducted, with each leg composed of 69 teams. Four “Leg champions” were determined and were then made to play each other in a battle of champions to determine the over-all champion of the one-day basketball festival. The same routine takes place today, this time at the SMS Girlstown in Talisay. For an event of this magnitude, it was imperative to cover both campuses and not just stick to one.

The “bigness” of the event was conquered through the united efforts of key players determined to set the record. The tournament proper was managed by the SBP’s technical commission with referees provided by the SBP Region 7 team. The SBP team from the head office came in full force. Along with Barrios came the 3X3 Operations team of Mark Solano, Xander Gubat, Love Gubat, Ryn Betia, Bujoy Magno, Totie Celeste, Hazel Yambot, Nante Azores, Jerry Abuyabor and FIBA Commissioner Hector Villanueva. Also here are Deputy Executive Director Butch Antonio, legal counsel Atty. Aga Francisco and Batang Gilas team manager Andrew Teh. Chooks to Go is the main supporter of the event, bankrolling the historical tournament out of their love for the country. Cebu’s sales head Alward Espina and his hard-working crew also played a major role especially in dressing up both campuses, including banderitas, tarps and huge drop-down billboards hung on the side of the main building.

At the press conference for the event on Friday, Boss Ronald stressed that the main driver why Chooks to Go was supporting this event was love for the country. At times, this may sound “plastic,” but when one invests this much in a weekend endeavor, there’s truly something special. And I can assure you they aren’t spending just peanuts or petty cash here. “The main motivation is to help restore love for country among our fellow Filipinos,” he stressed. In store in this event are a number of key items. By conducting the biggest ever 3X3 tournament in one setting, the Philippines stands to improve its ranking in the FIBA 3X3 world. This is crucial as ranking is one way to qualify for the Olympics. And the good news is that 3X3 basketball is now a regular event at the Olympics starting with the Tokyo 2020 games. It’s actually now more realistic for us to make it to the Olympics via 3X3 basketball over the regular 5-on-5 event (which we can now “forget”). Another component is the opportunity to provide basketball fun to the students at Boystown and Girlstown with the bonus that they become part of history. How many birds have we hit so far? I’ve lost count.

There’s also a guy who always prefers to stay behind the scenes but needs to be mentioned. Mel Macasaquit of MelMac Sports. Until today, I still can’t comprehend how an Airbus 330-qualified pilot is spending his time in sports endeavors like this. He’s a one-man photographer, scriptwriter, director and executive producer rolled into one. Through his guidance, this basketball event has become more than just a basketball tournament. It has become an important milestone on Pinoy sports.

Grateful we are in Cebu Basketball. Who would’ve thought that this corner of the world would make a mark in history? But we all know where that’s coming from.

Daghang salamat Señor Sto. Niño. Pit Señor!

bleachertalk@yahoo.com

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