The top-seeded Ub Huishan of Serbia will try to silence the home crowd of Cebu Chooks early when the two teams face off in the 2022 Chooks-to-Go Manila Masters on Saturday at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay.
The two teams are in Pool A along with Zavkhan MMC Energy and the Serbians, behind top guns Strahinja Stojacic and Dejan Majstorovic look to assert themselves early in this FIBA 3×3 World Tour stop.
However, Ub should get an early test against in-form Cebu Chooks, who will be boosted by their army of crazy passionate fans. The Filipinos broke a long drought for the Philippines on the pro circuit with a victory at the Super Quest event in Manila.
Their chances of upsetting Ub rests in the hands of the deadly duo Macmac Tallo and Mike Harry, who were dynamic in that triumph and need to produce something similar at their favored half-court in Manila.
“It’s going to be a tough group for Cebu but it’s also going to be a learning experience,” said Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas. “But both Cebu and Manila Chooks have been training with Ub and Liman here for the past week. Hopefully, the lessons they learn from the Serbians will be of great help come the Manila Masters.”
Pool B is highlighted by a blockbuster between No.2 seed Antwerp and No.7 seed Sansar MMC Energy.
The Belgians are desperate to break a title drought on the World Tour and win their first Masters having once again fallen at the semis in Utsunomiya although they played the tournament without a sub.
Thibaut Vervoort, aka ‘Must See TV’, had better reviews than “We Own This City” as he topped the scoring charts in Japan. And good news, he will be able to rest from time to time as the Belgians will play with four players in the Philippines.
It means Sansar’s walking bucket Anand Ariunbold will need to heat up if the Mongolians are to cause an upset.
Sansar will hope to rediscover their best having gone off the boil since finishing runner-up at Asia Pacific Super Quest 2022.
The third team in the group will come from a qualifying draw, featuring Yokohama (JPN), Auckland (NZL), and Melbourne (AUS).
Pool C should be crowned the ‘Group of Death’ and features potentially the best game on Day 1 between powerhouse and No.3 seed Liman Huishan NE (SRB) and emerging Warsaw Lotto (POL).
Liman was heartbroken after falling to Ub in an OT classic in Utsunomiya and face a tough early test against Warsaw, who is determined to make a splash in 2022 after turning professional.
And finally, Pool D appears tough to pick with Mongolian teams Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy and Zaisan MMC Energy squaring off. Rounding out a tough group is Manila Chooks, who split their two games against Zaisan this season
The Filipinos have been in solid early season form with semi-final finishes at Super Quest events in Manila and Ulaanbaatar. Their chances of getting into Day 2 rests with duo Henry Iloka, who has been a beast inside, and wily veteran Chico Lanete.