Cebu Chooks! will be tested early as they battle the top-ranked Ub of Serbia in the opening of the 2022 Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3×3 World Tour Manila Masters on Saturday a the Ayala Mall Manila Bay events center in Pasay City.
Cebu Chooks! will led by two Cebuanos in former pro Macmac Tallo and energetic forward Zach Huang. However, their hands will be full trying to contain the world’s top 3×3 player, Strahinja Stojacic, the undisputed heart and soul on Ub of Serbia.
The two teams are slotted in Pool A along with Mongolia’s Zavkhan MMC Energy.
Cebu and Manila Chooks have actually been training with Ub and Liman for the past week, transferring knowledge to each other during their respective build-ups for the maximum level 3×3 tournament.
“Madami kaming natutunan sa kanila tulad ng pagiging saktong pisikal lang sa depensa, kung paano sila nafree-free up sa opensa,” said Tallo. “Sana maapply namin sa Manila Masters lahat yun.”
Cebu is coming off a championship win in the 2022 Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3×3 Asia Pacific Super Quest while Ub was victorious in the Utsunomiya Masters.
Also part of Cebu are Fil-Canadian bruiser Brandon Ramirez and Cameroonian Mike Nzeusseu.
Meanwhile, Manila is slotted in Pool D along with Mongolian rivals Ulaanbaatar and Zaisan MMC Energy.
Manila and Zaisan are uber familiar with one another, having faced each other thrice already in the young FIBA 3×3 pro season.
Manila defeated Zaisan in the Asia Pacific Super Quest, 21-17, before Zaisan got two back on their home floor, including a 21-16 win during the semis in the Ulaanbaatar Super Quest.
Holdovers from that Manila team are Chico Lanete, Henry Iloka, and Dennis Santos. This time around, they will have 6-foot-8 Fil-Norwegian Ken Holmqvist.
“I’m just excited to be able to finally show what I can do and represent my country,” said Holmqvist, who was part of the Gilas team that won the 2016 SEABA Cup. “Of course, there’s pressure but it’s something that we have to embrace being the home team.”
Pool C will have world no. 3 team Liman, Poland’s Warsaw Lotto, and India’s Gurugam 3BL.
World no. 2 Antwerp of Belgium and Mongolia’s Sansar MMC Energy are slotted in Pool B along with the winner of the qualifying draw.
The top two teams in each pool will advance to the knockout playoffs the following day.
The prize pool for the tournament is set at $122,000 (P6,375,415) with $40,000 (P2,090,300) going to the champion.