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3x3 Basketball

Nueva Ecija’s Juan GDL to sit out Chooks 3×3 Leg 2 due to ankle sprain

CALAMBA, LAGUNA – Juan Gomez de Liano will be sitting out the second leg of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup powered by TM on Friday.

The 20-year-old who has taken the country’s first-ever professional 3×3 league by storm sustained an ankle sprain in the first leg last Wednesday and Nueva Ecija has opted to rest their playmaker.

He averaged 7.5 points per game during the first leg that took place inside the INSPIRE Academy bubble.

That doesn’t mean that the Rice Vanguards will still play with a handicap, however, as Tonino Gonzaga will play in his stead.

The new entrants in this tournament energized by hydration partner Gatorade lost Gomez de Liano in their last assignment in the group stages, while also seeing Mac Sabellina get ejected, but still made an improbable run to the semifinals where they bowed to eventual champion Zamboanga City-Family’s Brand Sardines, 21-19.

Plain and simple, for Gab Banal, that was a testament to their will to win. As he put it, “We just wanted to win. We just wanted to show we’re still going to fight so you even saw Jai [Reyes] driving one against two.”

Nueva Ecija is out to dig deep once more as they face a different kind of challenge for Leg 2 since they have been grouped together with sister team Palayan City Capitals and rebound-seeking Saranggani Marlins in Pool A.

Talking about challenges, all of them were met head-on by Zamboanga City and Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Troy Rike, and Santi Santillan still powered through to an undefeated run in Leg 1.

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The heavy favorites topped their group before dismissing resurgent Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas-Porac and the fighting Rice Vanguards in the playoffs and then besting determined Butuan City-Uling Roasters in the Finals, 21-17.

Down three in the last four minutes of the championship contest, Munzon sparked a 7-0 charge that propelled Family’s Brand Sardines to the P100,000 cash prize.

The same amount remains up for grabs in Leg 2 and 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.

To continue their winning ways, Munzon and company will first have to go through Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors and Petra Cement-Roxas ZN in Pool B.

Bannering Pool C is Butuan, who came back with a vengeance en route to a runner-up finish, alongside Bicol-Paxful 3×3 Pro and Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes MLV.

In Pool D, Porac will duke it out with Bacolod-Master Sardines and Pagadian Rocky Sports.

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 30,000 and 20,000, respectively in this tournament that airs on BEAM TV Ch.31 and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas’ Facebook page.

A hundred grand also remains at stake for whoever the opponent is if and when Zamboanga City 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 Munzon, no. 2 Pasaol, no. 5 Rike, and no. 6 Santillan in preparation for the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year.

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Meanwhile, the Slam Dunk Competition will again award P20, 000 to whoever wows the most among Leg 1 champion Darwin Cantong, veteran David Carlos, and Jesus Manay.

Following the second leg will be two more legs every other day ahead of the Grand Finals of the FIBA 3×3-endorsed tournament scheduled for October 30.

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