ABU DHABI — Cameroonian big man Mike Nzeusseu has been ruled out of Manila Chooks after the team held its last training before the 2021 FIBA 3×3 World Tour Abu Dhabi Masters at the Kasr Al Amwaj here, Thursday.
Nzeusseu suffered a minor left hand fracture last October 20 during Manila’s semis game against Cebu in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 Invitational.
The country’s no. 3 3×3 player Mark Yee has been activated to replace Nzeusseu. Completing Manila Chooks are no. 1 Mac Tallo, no. 2 Zach Huang, and no. 16 Chico Lanete.
“Of course, Mike is a big loss for our team but it’s the situation dealt to us,” said Ayo. “But Mark is ready since he has been training with us along with Dennis (Santos), Jayvee (Marcelino), and (Ralph) Tansingco.
“So today, we gave one last run-through of our system since this is the first time Mac, Chico, Zach, and Mark will be playing together,” he continued.
“I’m really disappointed since I have been really looking for this moment for two years now. During the pandemic, what I was doing was picturing me playing one day and I was picturing playing for Chooks-to-Go one day,” said Nzeusseu. “I tried but I could not give my 100-percent if I played with this injury.”
Back in the Doha Masters last March, Tallo, Lanete, Huang, and Santos went 0-2 in the qualifying draw.
Six months later, Tallo, Huang, Santos, and Yee finished in 11th place in the Montreal Masters.
This time around, Manila Chooks will face world no. 4 Liman of Serbia and no. 5 Amsterdam Talent&Pro of the Netherlands in Pool D. The Philippine-side will then hit the halfcourt against Liman on Friday at 10:20 PM (Manila time). Lastly, they face Amsterdam at 2:45AM (October 30 in Manila).
The top two teams in the group will advance to the knockout playoffs in the maximum level tournament.
Despite the predicament that Manila Chooks is in, Ayo and the team remain focused on the goal of finally making it to the knockout stage.
“Of course, the goal is still to make the playoffs,” said Ayo. “If we stick to the system, we can upset Liman or Amsterdam.”