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3x3 Basketball

Mac Tallo, Manila Chooks bow out of FIBA 3×3 WT Manila group phase

MANILA Chooks! put up a commendable fight but fell victim to foul trouble in the Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3×3 World Tour Manila Masters 2023, suffering a heartbreaking 18-22 (6:12) defeat against the Japanese team Utsunomiya BREX EXE in Pool A action on Saturday at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati.

Dennis Santos led the Filipino team’s charge in the Level 10 FIBA 3×3 event, rallying them back from an early 5-9 deficit against the eighth-placed Utsunomiya in the opening game of the Masters.

The Philippine No. 3 3×3 player scored six consecutive points, including a two-pointer and an and-one conversion, to tie the score at 11-all.

Mac Tallo, the top Philippine 3×3 player, and Sierra Leonean big man Tosh Sesay then gave Manila Chooks! a 14-12 advantage with less than six minutes remaining.

However, foul trouble ultimately dashed their hopes of reaching the quarterfinals on Day 2, as “Japanese Terrence Romeo” Yosuke Saito sank free throws to give his team an 18-15 lead.

“I have nothing to say about the players. They gave their all with their effort and dedication. We just couldn’t adjust to the fouls, so it’s a shame,” head trainer Chico Lanete remarked after the close loss. “We just have to continue what we have started and master our game plan. We should learn from this lesson and avoid unnecessary fouling. I think you all saw how the players gave it their all.”

Despite the situation, Manila Chooks! fought until the end. Guard Paul Desiderio made a two-pointer, and Sesay’s dunk brought the team within 18-20.

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Serbian player Marko Milakovic then delivered the knockout blow with 3:48 remaining, hitting a contested two-pointer from the left wing to send Utsunomiya to Day 2 of the competition.

“Making the winning shot is always amazing. I spoke with the Manila team and told them they had a perfect game. Mac was a superb guy. The positive energy from the home crowd also made this game better,” Milakovic said, praising their opponents. “Sometimes, players just want it more to win, that’s why tomorrow, we need to focus. This is our third time here, so hopefully, we make it to the semifinals and the finals.”

Tallo, on the other hand, acknowledged that Manila Chooks! will need to learn from their tough defeats and improve their cohesion as a team.

“The effort was there. We tried to win the second game. We gave it our all, we didn’t hold back our energy because we wanted to make it to Day 2. I think the only thing lacking for us is chemistry,” Tallo said.

With the victory, Utsunomiya will join undefeated Ub Huishan NE of Serbia as Pool A quarterfinalists.

The other teams advancing to the knockout stage are Riga of Latvia and San Juan of Puerto Rico in Pool B, Amsterdam HiPRO of the Netherlands and Futian of China in Pool C, and Beijing of China and Sansar MMC Energy of Mongolia in Pool D.

The winner of the Manila Masters will receive $40,000, while the second and third placers will receive $30,000 and $22,000, respectively.

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