CALAMBA, LAGUNA – Uling Roasters-Butuan City is only the second squad to win a leg in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup powered by TM.
Uling Roasters, however, is far from satisfied and are out to go back-to-back in Leg 4, Tuesday still inside the INSPIRE Sports Academy here.
“This doesn’t mean anything,” said Franky Johnson after launching the longball that won the third leg last Sunday. “We gotta go to the next leg and execute the same thing there.”
Butuan City did not drop a game the last time around and displayed the all-around attack that made it a contender right from the preseason of the Philippines’ pioneering 3×3 league energized by hydration partner Gatorade.
Now, they have a championship under their belt as well as the league lead in terms of points.
“Of course, this is a confidence-booster for us, but we’ve been confident since the preseason just from knowing all the hard work we put in,” said their shifty shooter. “We prepared ourselves to give ourselves the best shot here. We’re all locked in.”
All eyes will be on Uling Roasters if they can continue their momentum in a new group including Bacolod-Master Sardines and Sarangani Marlins in Pool A for the fourth leg still streaming on Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Facebook and FIBA 3×3 YouTube and airing on BEAM TV Ch. 31 starting 1:00 p.m.
The newly crowned kings are well aware of a different target on their backs – especially from revenge-seeking Family’s Brand Sardines-Zamboanga City Chooks, re-energized Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, and upstarts Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors.
“They’re a tough team. You saw how they played us in the Finals,” said Johnson of the Pasig side that gave them all they can handle. “In this league, we don’t underestimate anybody. Everybody is getting better from preseason to now so our mindset is we have to level up too.”
The Realtors went from a quarterfinal ending in Leg 1 to a semifinals exit in Leg 2 to a runner-up finish in Leg 3.
They have emerged as a team-to-watch, especially after stunning Zamboanga City, but will have to mix it up in Pool C with upset-conscious Bicol-Paxful 3×3 Pro and Nueva Ecija which remains to wait for Juan Gomez de Liano’s return from injury.
Zamboanga City’s bounce back, meanwhile, will begin in Pool B where it will be challenged by emerging Palayan City Capitals and Pagadian-Rocky Sports.
In Pool B, Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas-Porac, Petra Cement-Roxas ZN, and Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes MLV will go at it.
The top two from each group advance into the quarters and from there, knockout bouts will determine the champion who will receive P100,000 while the second- and third-placers get P30,000 and P20,000, respectively.
A hundred grand is also at stake for whoever the opponent is if and when Family’s Brand Sardines makes the Finals.
The amount was pledged by Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas as an incentive for other teams to toughen up PH no. 1 Joshua Munzon, no. 2 Alvin Pasaol, no. 5 Troy Rike, and no. 6 Santi Santillan in preparation for the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Meanwhile, the Slam Dunk Competition will again award P20,000 to whoever wows the most among Leg 1 champion Darwin Cantong, Leg 2 and 3 winner David Carlos, and Jesus Manay.
The fourth leg is the last one before the Grand Finals of the FIBA 3×3-endorsed tournament scheduled for October 30.