DOHA, QATAR – Debuting Filipino teams Pasig Chooks and Balanga Chooks more than exceeded expectations and upset their more fancied rivals to achieve a combined sweep of all of their four games at the conclusion of Day One of the FIBA 3X3 World Tour Masters at the Katara Amphitheatre Thursday evening. They now have less than 24 hours to prepare for the knockout playoffs set for Friday.
Pasig registered what could be the biggest upset of the tournament by shocking top seed Liman of Serbia to sweep Group A, 18-16. It was a fitting follow up to their opening win over home side Katara, 21-14.
Ironically, it was Serbian Nikola Pavlovic who hit a crucial two-pointer followed by a Joshua Munzon basket that gave Pasig the 17-14 advantage. Liman then countered with two free throws to slightly threaten but Taylor Statham responded with back to back field goals for the final tally.
Balanga set the tone for the day by dismantling third seed Riga Ghetto of Latvia in Group C, 19-17, and then returned later to upend Moscow Inanomo of Russia in overtime, 20-19. Balanga was forced to play with only three players after Leonard Santillan got injured early against the Latvians but the rest of the team in Travis Franklin, Alvin Pasaol and Karl Dehesa stepped up with big plays.
Franklin scored 14 points against Riga but it was Pasaol and Dehesa who hit the shots to break away from the game’s final tie at 17-17. Pasaol would come up with more heroics with the winning two-pointer against the Russians.
The win by Pasig was significant as it avoided a quarterfinal clash with Balanga. Instead, Pasig will face Latvia while Bataan will take on Liman.
Other quarterfinal pairings will have Group B winner Novi Sad of Serbia against Ljubljana of Slovenia and the other Slovenian entry Piran battling Japan’s Tokyo Dime. David Carlos of the Philippines will also compete in the Slam Dunk Contest.