THE RENAMED Pasig Chooks and Balanga Chooks are all ready to represent the Philippines in the FIBA 3X3 World Tour Masters set for April 18 to 19 in Doha, Qatar. This is the first time in four years that the country is competing in what is considered the world’s highest level for professional clubs and they will go all out to shock the world.
Pasig earned their slot by ruling the inaugural Chooks To Go Pilipinas 3X3 President’s Cup last March 31. The former Grindhouse Kings-Pasig will be bannered by stalwarts Joshua Munzon, Taylor Statham, import Nikola Pavlovic from Serbia and new acquisition Angelo Tsagarakis, a 6’3” veteran of France’s 3X3 national team.
On the other, Balanga will field exactly the same roster that finished runner-up in the recent Chooks To Go 3X3 Asia Pacific Super Quest where they punched their ticket April 7 as the 1Bataan Risers. Familiarity will be the edge of the quartet of Alvin Pasaol, Leonard Santillan, Karl Dehesa and American Travis Franklin.
“We are willing to lend all of our players to the national team especially for the coming Southeast Asian Games,” said Pilipinas 3X3 owner Ronald Mascarinas during a recent send off party he tendered for the teams. Despite being in existence for only two months, the pioneering 3X3 league has helped raise the Philippines’ FIBA 3X3 ranking to 32nd or 17 notches better than the 49th rank at the start of 2019.
The tournament format in Doha will be the same as the Super Quest wherein the 12 teams will be divided into four groups of three and play a single round elimination. The top two from each group will advance to the knockout playoffs on the second day.
A big challenge faces Pasig as they have been assigned to Group A together with top seed Liman of Serbia and Katara of host Qatar. Balanga finds themselves in Group B in the company of Riga Ghetto of Latvia and Moscow Inanomo of Russia.
Super Quest champions Tokyo Dime of Japan is in Group B along with another home team Doha and Novi Sad of Serbia that will parade the world’s top-ranked 3X3 player Dusan Bulut. Group D has a pair of teams from Slovenia in Piran and Ljubljana to tangle with Mount Royal McGill of Canada.