Despite being newbies in Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3, Pasig-Sta. Lucia became the first team to defeat fancied Family’s Brand Sardines-Zamboanga Chooks in the 2020 President’s Cup powered by TM.
And it’s because of the uncanny chemistry within the team — especially the duo of Jhapz Bautista and Ced Ablaza, who have been playing together since their collegiate days in STI.
“Mag-teammate kami 2009 hanggang 2012 yata, tapos matanda ako sa kanya eh. Ako unang natapos [yung] playing years,” shared Bautista, 32, during an episode of Chooks-to-Go Crossover.
“After noon, parang naglaro kami sa ibang liga, ‘yung D-League tapos panay ligang labas na rin. Kapag may ligang labas ako, automatic kasama rin siya,” he added, as they played together in D-League teams Batangas-EAC and BRT-Sumisip.
“After ng college, naglaro ako ng D-League first conference. After noon, nag-stop na ako eh, hindi na talaga ako naglalaro. So si Jhapz ‘yung nag-push sa akin noon, siya ‘yung nag-aya sa akin maglaro. Sabi niya, ‘Laro ka pa!’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige!’ Nag-try ulit tapos ayun, nagtuloy-tuloy. Naglaro ulit kami ng D-League, teammate pa rin,” said Ablaza, on the other hand.
“Tapos ‘yung mga panalay, alam na ‘pag panalay automatic na ‘yan. Hindi pwedeng maglaban.”
In the MPBL, however, they became opponents. Ablaza is with Makati while Bautista is with Basilan.
But in Chooks 3×3, they became teammates again with the Realtors.
And their chemistry is undeniable.
In the third leg, the duo powered Pasig-Sta. Lucia to the Finals with wins over FBS-Zamboanga (21-18) and Palayan City (21-9). However, they bowed to Uling Roasters-Butuan by the closest of margins, 20-21.
Still, they were proud of the stand they made.
“Nung na-shoot ‘yun, siyempre talagang nalungkot din. Pero at least happy pa rin na binigay namin ‘yung best namin doon sa game na ‘yun,” said Ablaza, since it took a Hail Mary by Franky Johnson to beat them.
“Talagang lahat nung nandoon sa likod nakatayo na eh nung game eh. Tapos pagpanik namin ng room, lahat pala ng nandito nakasubaybay sa amin. Sabi nila sayang wala ng pizza tuloy.”
More than getting to play again, both Bautista and Ablaza relish getting to spend time together — just like the good old days.