MANILA, Philippines -- After competing in 3x3 tournaments all over the world -- from Doha to Moscow to Jeddah -- Alvin Pasaol has come to relish the physicality offered by the half-court version of the sport.
Despite standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing nearly 220 pounds, the former University of the East star has found himself being rag-dolled in games against European players, whose teams have dominated the sport in the last decade.
"Hindi larong pambata 'to. Magkaiba ang 5-on-5 at 3x3," said Pasaol. "Sa international, lahat matitigas, hindi nagpapabalya."
"Kaya kailangan matapang ka, kailangan matigas katawan mo. The way you play the game, kailangang mentally tough ka parati," he added.
His tough play in international tournaments have carried over to the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 league, where Pasaol and his Zamboanga City teammates have dominated the first two legs of the President's Cup.
His squad has been involved in several intense games. In the second leg against Nueva Ecija, he and Santi Santillan figured in a scuffle with Gab Banal and Tonino Gonzaga.
"Hindi mo pwedeng tignan lang yung kasama mo na aapihin ng iba. Kailangan mong tulungan yung kasama mo eh. Nakita mong nadapa yung kasama mo, eh kailangan mo siyang itayo," Pasaol explained of the incident.
"Sa akin lang naman, normal na 'yun. Kilala ko naman si Gab. Nandun 'yung pisikal niya sa court. Pero paglabas naman ng court, magkaibigan kami, walang masama ang loob," said Santillan, who chipped in seven markers in the contest.
Pasaol scored 11 points in their 21-11 win over the Rice Vanguards in the final of Leg 2.
After the game, there's no hard feelings between the two squads -- even laughing together on the floor as the buzzer sounded.
"Ganiyan naman talaga 3x3, pisikalan. Pagdating naman sa labas, magkakaibigan, magbabarkada pa rin," said Pasaol.
What's most important for Pasaol and company is that the President's Cup is toughening them up for what they consider to be their most important goal -- the 2021 FIBA 3X3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament which is set to be held in Graz, Austria in May.
"Eto na yung training ground namin, kumbaga, para pagdating sa OQT, makakalaban tayo," said Pasaol.