World

Munzon now 89th in the world in 3×3

Munzon now 89th in the world in 3×3

MANILA, Philippines—The game of basketball has been inexplicably sweet for Joshua Munzon. It has taken him around the world, It has become his source of livelihood, and it has given him the opportunity wear the country’s name across his chest.

And it has earned him a distinction: Munzon, 24, now belongs to the top 100 of Fiba 3×3’s world rankings.

“I think it’s a testimony of what [love of the game] could do for you. If you love the game, it will love you back,” he told the Inquirer in a recent interview at a hotel in Ortigas.

Munzon, is the country’s No. 1 3×3 player and, more importantly, 89th in the world—a remarkable feat he has put together in the span of just six months.

But the 6-foot-3 playmaker says his individual 3×3 ranking says more about his team than himself.

“I think that it’s a team award. If you have some guys that’s up there like that, I think it’s a testament to what other guys are doing to sacrifice and help other guys be successful,” he said.

“Scoring the ball isn’t everything. It’s a team game. Everybody has to contribute one way or the other—in defense, rebounding or simply playing hard. Just because I score the ball, doesn’t mean I’m the best player in the squad or anything like that,” he added.

Munzon, who traces his Filipino heritage through his father, said that being in the elite crop is emblematic of his team’s growth.

“I think collectively as a group, we’re becoming a team that can compete with the other better teams in the world,” he said.

Munzon will spearhead Pasig Chooks-to-Go, ranked 24th in the world, in the 2019 Fiba 3×3 Moscow Tinkoff Challenger which unfolds Friday night in Russia. He will be backed by former pro Dylan Ababou, World No. 91 Taylor Statham, and old reliable Nikola Pavlovic as import.

Munzon’s crew will be joined by Balanga Chooks-to-Go, which will be led by Philippines 2nd-ranked 3×3 cager in Alvin Pasaol. Comprising the team are Karl Dehesa, newcomer Chris de Chavez and another returning reinforcement in Travis Franklin.

Pasig and Balanga are at the forefront of boosting the Philippines’ bid in making it to the qualifying tournament of the specialized format, which was recently made an Olympic sport.

“I’ve been with my team all year but you know, my ranking has a lot to do with my team. We’ve been together, we’ve won together and lost together but at the same time, I won’t be where I am without my teammates,” said Munzon, whose squad will shoot for redemption when they try to erase the bitter taste of going winless in the Kunshan Challenger last month.

“We want to make up for what happened,” he added. Pasig is set to face Belgium’s Antwerp at 11:00 p.m. (Manila time) before taking a familiar foe in Latvia’s Riga Ghetto, the World’s No. 3 squad, at 12:25 a.m. in Pool B play. Balanga, meanwhile, faces Ukraine’s Odessa Basket in the 7:40 p.m. contest before taking on Moscow Inanomo at 8:20.