CALAMBA, LAGUNA – Zamboanga City lived up to the billing as it reigned supreme in the preseason of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go President’s Cup powered by TM, but for the players themselves, that was far from the start they had in mind.
Considered the heavy favorite with the country’s top two players in Joshua Munzon and Alvin Pasaol leading the way, Family’s Brand Sardines won its opener last Monday inside the INSPIRE Sports Academy here before suffering a shock loss to upstart Bicol-Paxful 3×3 Pro, 19-21, in the group stages.
“Sobrang upset sa amin yun. Sobrang taas ng tingin ng ibang teams sa amin, na top team-to-beat nga kami,” said Pasaol of the 19-21 defeat. “Masyadong complacent kami sa nangyari na yun so nag-usap-usap kaming wag na natin uulitin yun.”
They did just that, ringing off three consecutive convincing victories, including a semis domination of Juan Gomez de Liano and Gab Banal’s Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, 21-14, and then a Finals conquest of Bacolod-Master Sardines fronted by Anton Asistio, 21-17.
“This meant bigger for us because we lost,” said Munzon, talking about their preseason championship that also awarded them P50,000. “It showed that we’re able to fight through adversity.”
Zamboanga City hopes to build on this momentum as they duke it out once more with Bicol, Nueva Ecija, Bacolod, and eight other teams Wednesday in the first leg of the country’s first-ever professional 3×3 league energized by hydration partner Gatorade.
All of the action will still be aired on BEAM TV Ch. 31 and streamed on Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Facebook and FIBA 3×3 YouTube starting at 1:00 p.m with a simple opening ceremony.
Family’s Brand Sardines have been grouped together with Saranggani Marlins and MLV-Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes in Pool A while the Rice Vanguards and Master Sardines are in Pool D alongside Petra Cement Roxas ZN.
Pool B is then made up of Uling Roasters-Butuan, Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors, and Pagadian Rocky Sports while Bicol, Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas MSC-Porac, and Palayan City Capitals comprise Pool C.
The top two from each group advance into the quarterfinals and from there, knockout bouts will determine the champion which will receive P100,000 while the second- and third-placers get P30,000 and P20,000, respectively.
Once the first leg kicks off, one thing’s for sure for Zamboanga City. “We can’t come here and think we’re gonna win because of the guys we have in our team. We got to take everything seriously and got to be ready to play,” said Munzon.
Meanwhile, Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas is grateful that his fledgling league is back in action. “We are all glad that sports is back. May it continue to be so,” he said.
So glad is the always amiable patron of 3×3 that he has put up an incentive for all teams that don’t have PH no. 1 Munzon, no. 2 Pasaol, no. 5 Troy Rike, and no. 6 Santi Santillan.
If and when Zamboanga City makes the Finals of any leg, their opponent there is automatically awarded P100,000, win-or-lose.
Also up for grabs in the first leg will be P20,000 for the TM Slam Dunk Competition.
High-flyers David Carlos, Jesus Manay, and Darwin Cantong will go at it in the side event that has a P10,000 prize as well for the runner-up.
The league’s best snipers will also take part in the TM Two-Point Shootout which has P10,000 waiting for the champion.
Following the first leg will be three more legs every other day ahead of the Grand Finals of the FIBA-endorsed tournament scheduled for October 30.