MANILA – The Philippine team that will play in the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Doha Masters has arrived in the Qatari capital.
Aboard Qatar Airways flight QR 929, the quartet of Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Troy Rike, and Santi Santillan landed at the Hamad International Airport at 4:23 a.m. local time Monday (9:23 a.m., Philippine time).
As part of the airport’s coronavirus disease 2019 protocols, the squad, which will be known as Manila Chooks, took a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test and also downloaded the contact tracing application put up by Qatar’s national government.
Manila Chooks members are currently in isolation at the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel and can only get out once the team gets the negative results.
The team is using the time inside the hotel quarantine to take a close look at its opponents for the Doha Masters.
“Review muna kami dito sa rooms namin. At least nakakapag-ready kami kahit hindi pa kami makapag-ensayo rito (We will just review the teams in our rooms for the meantime. At least, we are preparing even if we have not yet begun training here),” team captain Pasaol said.
The rest of the field consists of Liman and UB of Serbia; Riga of Latvia; NY Harlem and Princeton of USA; Lausanne of Switzerland; Jeddah and Riyadh of Saudi Arabia; Kamakura and Yoyogi of Japan; Bielefeld of Germany; Utana of Lithuania; and home team Lusail.
Departing just in time
The waiting game for Manila Chooks’s RT-PCR test result is just the tip of the iceberg.
The team nearly missed out on the flight to Doha as the players were still waiting for their visas to arrive until Sunday.
Munzon, Pasaol, Rike, and Santillan were only cleared to depart for the Qatari capital at around 5:30 p.m., six hours before the flight took off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 at 11:30 p.m.
“FIBA 3X3’s senior manager Ignacio Soriano and 3×3 Events and Partners Associate Valentina Mattioli — both of whom are in Spain — and the Qatar ministry moved heaven and earth just to get the visas for the players,” Bounty Agro Ventures president Ronald Mascarinas, who bankrolls the Manila Chooks squad, bared the struggles the aforementioned parties had to overcome just for the team to finally make it to the flight.
After Manila Chooks finally flew for Doha, Mascarinas heaved a sigh of relief.
“The spirit of bayanihan was truly alive,” he further said.
The FIBA 3×3 World Tour Doha Masters will take place from Nov. 20-21. (PNA)