Balanga Chooks’ journey to the next round of the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Manila Challenger just got tougher.
Balanga was overpowered by the Czech Republic’s Humpolec, falling 16-20 (8:19), Saturday afternoon at the SM Fairview Events Center.
With this, Balanga needs a miracle to advance to the knockout playoffs of this tournament that is a qualifier for the Jeddah Masters.
Balanga needs to stun world no. 2 Riga Ghetto (A, 1-0), who defeated Humpolec earlier in the day 17-13, later at 5:10 pm to create a three-way log jam in the group. If Balanga accomplishes the improbable, the top two teams with the most points scored will advance to the next round.
And the Czechs were just too strong for Balanga.
Up by 12-11 with 4:12 left, burly big man Ondřej Dygrýn overpowered Lamar Roberson, scoring on the hoop plus picking up Balanga’s seventh foul for the and-two.
Fouls continued to plague Balanga the rest of the way as they were at the 10-foul mark with 2:44 left. A foul by Travis Franklin against Jan Kratochvíl led to two free throws plus the possession that paved the way for a Roman Zachrla bucket for matchpoint, 20-13.
Though Alvin Pasaol and Franklin tried to will Balanga back, a beautiful pick and pop play by Kratochvíl and Dygrýn resulted in the game-sealing deuce with 1:41 to spare.
Kratochvíl led Humpolec with nine points while Zachrla and Dygrýn added six and five markers, respectively.
Pasaol paced Balanga with six points. Roberson and Dehesa chipped in four points each.
In the earlier games, Ulaanbaatar stunned Kranj in Pool D play, 17-19. Antwerp picked up an 18-15 win over Amsterdam in Pool B while Gagarin edged Belgrade, 21-18, in Pool C.
Humpolec 22 – Kratochvíl 9, Zachrla 6, Dygrýn 5, Sismilich 2.
Balanga 16 – Pasaol 6, Roberson 4, Dehesa 4, Franklin 2.