Only a handful expected Pasig Chooks (Pasig Kings) to finish fifth in the 2019 FIBA 3×3 World Tour Masters Doha, let alone defeat world no. 1 Liman during pool play.
Though surprising for many, the country’s top two 3×3 players Taylor Statham and Joshua Munzon knew it was going to happen.
“It was shocking to the world but myself and Josh have been talking about this over and over again,” said Statham, who was the third best scorer of the tournament with norms of 7.67 points per game.
“We are a tough duo to beat.
“With Angelo’s [Tsagarakis] and Nikola’s [Pavlovic] experience, that’s really an unstoppable team,” Statham continued.
The reigning Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup champions opened their campaign with a quick 21-14 win over Katara — the second fastest game of the tourney as the Kings finished the hosts with 2:52 to spare.
However, the top 3×3 teams in the world know when to find their second gear. And the young Pasig squad saw it during the quarterfinals as Pasig was overwhelmed by eventual-champions Riga Ghetto in their knockout game, 21-15 (9:39).
For Statham, if only he and Munzon had played with Pavlovic and Tsagarakis a little longer, they would have beaten Riga and ended up in the Final Four.
“The only thing that the others have on us is their team camaraderie, that they have played together for so long,” the 26-year-old Filipino-American as they only got to play with Pavlovic during the Chooks-to-Go 3×3 Asia Pacific Super Quest and Tsagarakis only in this tournament.
“I feel like if we had been together just a few months, I feel like we can beat them on any other day.”
Still, Munzon says that the experience they gained in Doha will be important for them moving forward.
“I definitely think it was a big learning experience. Our teams only played starting playing 3×3 last January. We learned a lot through the local league and learned a lot more in the Super Quest but the World Tour was an eye-opening experience,” said Munzon, who normed 5.33 points per game.
“We are going to be ready for the Challenger and the next conference (Chooks 3×3 Patriots’ Cup). Hopefully, we can get to play in the next World Tour.”
Pasig will move on to the Kunshan Challenger from May 18 to 19, a qualifier to the Chengdu Masters.