DOHA — Manila Chooks TM will face an old ghost when it steps on the halfcourt of the Al Gharafa Sports Complex here on Friday.
This as the Philippine-based team has been grouped with world no. 1 Liman and home team Lusail in Pool A of the 2020 FIBA 3X3 Doha World Tour Masters.
Back in the 2019 edition of the tournament, Pasig Chooks, composed of Joshua Munzon, Taylor Statham, Nikola Pavlovic, and Angelo Tsagarakis with Troy Rike as reserve, stunned Liman in the pool stages with a 19-16 win.
In the same tournament, Balanga Chooks, a team then composed of now-Manila players Alvin Pasaol and Santi Santillan along with Karl Dehesa and Travis Franklin, bowed to Liman in the quarterfinals, 9-21.
Pasig and Balanga finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively, last year.
Definitely, the country’s top 3×3 player Munzon and no. 5 Rike are ready for the rematch.
“It’s definitely going to be a test for us to square against those European teams but you know I think we’re ready mentally, physically,” said Munzon as the stakes are high in this level 10 tournament with USD 40,000 going to the champion.
“I think we’re ready as we can be and we’ll see how things go. I am confident with my team. We’re ready to get after it.”
“We have played more recently than probably most of the other teams here. We’re kinda still in game mode and team mode heading right into that,” added Rike as his squad competed in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup just two weeks ago.
Liman, who Manila will face on Friday at 11:55PM (Philippine time), will be composed of 2017 FIBA 3X3 World Tour MVP Stefan Stojacic, world no. 3 Stefan Kojic, no. 4 Mihailo Vasic, and no. 6 Aleksandar Ratkov.
On the other hand, Lusail, who Manila plays on Saturday at 1:35AM, has 36-year-old Greek Vasileiadis Kostantinos; 23-year-old Ousseynou Mbow of Senegal; and homegrown talents 32-year-old Qatari Mame Ndour and 18-year-old Hamza Radi.
The top two teams in Pool A will crossover with the top two of Pool C which is composed of world no. 4 NY Harlem, no. 14 Lausanne of Switzerland, and Lithuania’s Utena in the knockout quarterfinals on Saturday.
For Wednesday’s itinerary, Manila Chooks TM will hold its first on-court practice at the competition venue from 3:00PM to 4:00PM before heading back to the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel for a 30-minute weights training at 10:00PM.