Joshua Munzon: FIBA 3x3 OQT also part of preparation for rookie season

Top pick Joshua Munzon sees the upcoming FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) as another way to prepare for his much-awaited debut in the 46th PBA Season.

The 6-foot-4 high-flyer has been tapped - along with fellow rookie Alvin Pasaol as well as San Miguel Beermen CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa - to represent the Philippines in the FIBA 3x3 OQT slated for late May in Graz, Austria.

"While the PBA is still working to start the season, being able to be on the court and get in shape with Gilas 3x3 right now is definitely going to benefit me once the season begins," Munzon explained to ESPN5.

Having last played 3x3 in the Doha Masters back in November 2020, the Fil-Am guard said he was excited to get back into action with his national teammates which also includes Rain or Shine rookie Santi Santillan and veteran free agent Karl Dehesa, who will serve as reserves.

"We just have been doing Zoom team workouts for the past month and a half. I'm excited to finally get on the court with the team and get to work," expressed Munzon just as Gilas 3x3 entered the training 'bubble' inside INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna over the weekend.

The former Asean Basketball League star acknowledged that the Filipinos have their work cut out for them considering the powerhouse squads they are set to face in the qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics.

Nonetheless, he's confident that team chemistry will come sooner rather than later for them as they are now all inside the 'Calambubble.'

"In the OQT, we're going to be playing against the best 3x3 players in the world," explained Munzon, "The competition is going to be toughest we've seen yet."

"We've just been able to do a lot of home workout to keep our bodies active, but I think this time on the court is really going to benefit us the most," he added.

Gilas, rated 20th in the men's division, is bunched with powerhouse countries no. 3 Slovenia and no. 11 France as well as 26th-ranked Qatar and 33rd-seeded Dominican Republic.

Only the top two teams from each of the four groups move on to the knockout stage. In the end, just the best three squads in the tournament claim a spot in the Olympics.

Outside of 3x3, the 26-year-old shared that he has also been getting helpful tips for his freshman year in the PBA from Tautuaa and Perez, who starred for Terrafirma before getting traded to San Miguel.

"When it comes to the PBA, Mo and CJ just have been telling me to enjoy every step of the journey. Just be myself and everything else will take care of itself," remarked the former California State U standout.