Despite fielding a relatively overhauled all-Filipino lineup and losing their prized big man, Brandon Ramirez, early in the tournament due to a knee injury, the Manila Chooks! 3×3 squad passed their initial test with flying colors.
Chooks-to-Go President and team owner Ronald Mascariñas praised the charges of head trainer Chico Lanete after their campaign in the FIBA 3X3 Pro League Netherlands 2023 Winter Edition in Amsterdam.
“This all-Filipino lineup exceeded all expectations, and they rallied behind Brandon (Ramirez) when he got injured, which showed how much this team has developed as a unit,” Mascariñas said.
“CJ (Payawal) and Matt (Salem) proved that they deserve to play for the country together with Mac (Tallo) and Dennis (Santos),” he added.
More importantly, Chooks’ sustained efforts moved the country one spot higher from world No. 20 to No. 19 with 1,046,227 points, gaining 80,210 points from the Amsterdam joust, to boost its bid to make history by qualifying for the Paris Olympics next year.
It was also a historic run for Manila Chooks! as they became the first team in Philippine 3×3 basketball to advance to three straight quarterfinals in an international FIBA 3×3 Pro Quest tilt.
Payawal amassed 20,930 ranking points in the meet that had four stops to become Philippine No. 12, while Salem totaled 12,870 points to make it to the top 30.
For Mascariñas, the best is yet to come for the squad, which is set to hit the ground running anew for the Super Quest in Ulaanbaatar from April 22 to 23.
“Three quarterfinal appearances and elevating our world ranking to No. 19 pretty much checked all the boxes on my list of expectations,” the amiable executive and godfather of 3×3 play in the country said.
“The more this team improves and learns to trust the process laid out by coach Chico, the more they will be a force to reckon with in the coming pro circuit.”