After a month off, Cebu Chooks is back in the FIBA 3×3 pro circuit.
The country’s top 3×3 team begins their road to the 2022 Chooks-to-Go-FIBA 3×3 Cebu Masters on Friday in the FIBA 3×3 Lipik Challenger in Pozesko-Slavonska Zupanija in Croatia.
Tough will be the main draw of Cebu Chooks as it is slotted in Pool A along with world no. 2 Liman of Serbia (July 22, 11:40PM Manila time) and Switzerland’s top team Fribourg (July 23, 1:20 AM).
This will be the second time Cebu faces Liman for the season, bowing to the mighty Serbians during the 2022 Chooks-to-Go Manila Masters’ quarterfinals, 21-11.
This time around, Mac Tallo, Zach Huang, Brandon Ramirez, and Mike Nzeusseu are ready.
“Mabigat yung pagkatalo namin sa Liman noong Manila Masters,” recalled Tallo, the country’s top 3×3 player and no. 78 in the world. “Akala namin noon na ready na kami sa kanila kasi nakaka-ensayo namin sila pero iba pa rin talaga sila sa laro.
“Ngayon siguro mas ready kami para sa kanila,” he added as Liman will still field the quartet of world no. 4 Stefan Kojic, no. 9 Aleksandar Ratkov, no. 13 Nebojsa Kilijan, and no. 19 Miroslav Pašajlić.
Huang though stressed that they should also be wary of Fribourg.
“Though we haven’t seen that much of Fribourg, we have seen tapes of them and they are very skilled,” said PH no. 2 player Huang. “They are as young as us and very skilled.”
Cebu spent their first day in Croatia by doing conditioning exercises, a shootaround in the halfcourt, a film session with head trainer Aldin Ayo, and attending the technical meeting.
The team will have one more shootaround on Friday before competing in the level nine tournament that has a ticket to the Lausanne Masters at stake.
“We know we can compete against the world’s best teams. We have proven that all year long,” said 6-foot-5 bruiser Ramirez. “We have mentally prepared ourselves for this grind.”