New faces will make the stand for Manila Chooks TM when the 2021 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters rolls around from March 26 to 27.
Chico Lanete, Mac Tallo, Zachy Huang, and Dennis Santos have all received clearance to represent the country at the highest level.
The team coached by Aldin Ayo managed to clear their RT-PCR tests last Tuesday. They are now currently in home quarantine before they leave on March 20.
Though handling a new team, Ayo, a one-time NCAA and UAAP champion coach, is hoping that his system will work on the world stage.
“We are [just] starting pero I believe that we are starting on the right foot. We established a new culture and new approach. Hopefully, mag-respond mga players. For us coaches, we are doing our best also, and we are grateful sa support na binibigay ng Chooks-to-Go,” said Ayo.
Lanete, 41, is a 6-foot guard who has been a 5v5 pro since 2006. He made his 3×3 debut last year with Uling Roasters-Butuan in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup.
Joining him are 6-foot former 5v5 pro Tallo, 6-foot-4 ex-UST Growling Tiger Huang, and 6-foot-5 stretch big Dennis Santos.
“All of these players are given another opportunity. So ‘yun ang malaking bagay na puwedeng hawakan ng mga players. Seldom magkaroon ng second chance. They are motivated to prove that they can still play,” said Ayo.
Manila Chooks TM will have to go through the qualifying draw with host Doha and Austria’s Graz before it can make it to the main draw.
Already seeded are top teams Liman of Serbia, Riga of Latvia, Ub of Serbia, NY Harlem of USA, Princeton of USA, Novi Sad of Serbia, Amsterdam Talent&Pro of the Netherlands, Piran of Slovenia, Šakiai Gulbelė of Lithuania, Edmonton of Canada, and Lusail of Qatar.
Still, the team remains unfazed heading into the tough competition they are about to face.
“Although maliliit kami, may mga technique pa rin kami sa bawat kalaban. Nagpapasalamat kami kay Boss Ronald [Mascariñas] at sa Chooks-to-Go dahil kahit pandemic, nandun pa rin ang suporta nila,” said Lanete.
Manila Chooks TM face another roadblock, though. The Inter-agency Task Force has released a memorandum saying that it will limit travel into the Philippines by foreigners and returning overseas Filipinos from March 20 to April 19.
Chooks-to-Go president Mascariñas has assured that he and the league are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of the players.
“If everything goes well, Manila Chooks TM will be the first team to represent the country in an international competition. If that is not enough motivation for these boys, I don’t know what is,” said Mascariñas.