|The Manila Chooks team for the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Doha Masters with Coach Aldin Ayo. Chooks-to-Go|
MANILA--New faces will make the stand for Manila Chooks TM when the 2021 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters rolls around from March 26-27.
Cleared to represent the country in the maximum level (level 11) tournament are Chico Lanete, Mac Tallo, Zachy Huang, and Dennis Santos.
The team coached by Aldin Ayo was able to clear their RT-PCR tests last Tuesday and are now currently in home quarantine as they leave on March 20.
Though handling a new team, Ayo, a one-time NCAA and UAAP champion coach, is hoping that his system will work on the world stage.
"We are starting pero I believe that we are starting on the right foot. We established a new culture and new approach. Hopefully, mag-respond mga players. For us coaches, we are doing our best also and we are grateful sa support na binibigay ng Chooks-to-Go," said Ayo.
Lanete, 41, is a 6-foot guard who has been a 5v5 pro since 2006. He made his 3x3 debut last year with Uling Roasters-Butuan in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup.
Joining him are 6-foot former 5v5 pro Tallo, 6-foot-4 ex-UST Growling Tiger Huang, and 6-foot-5 stretch big Dennis Santos.
"All of these players are given another opportunity. So yun ang malaking bagay na puwedeng hawakan ng mga players, seldom magkaroon ng second chance. They are motivated to prove that they can still play," said Ayo.
Manila Chooks TM will have to go through the qualifying draw with host Doha and Austria's Graz before it can make it to the main draw.
Already seeded are top teams Liman of Serbia, Riga of Latvia, Ub of Serbia, NY Harlem of USA, Princeton of USA, Novi Sad of Serbia, Amsterdam Talent&Pro of the Netherlands, Piran of Slovenia, Šakiai Gulbelė of Lithuania, Edmonton of Canada, and Lusail of Qatar.
Unfazed is the team heading into the tough competition they are about to face.
"Although maliliit kami, may mga technique pa rin kami sa bawat kalaban. Nagpapasalamat kami kay Boss Ronald [Mascariñas] at sa Chooks-to-Go dahil kahit pandemic, nandun pa rin ang suporta nila," said Lanete.
Another roadblock though has been placed in front of Manila Chooks TM as the Inter-agency Task Force has released a memorandum saying that it will be limiting the travel into the Philippines of foreigners and returning overseas Filipinos from March 20-April 19.
Chooks-to-Go president Mascariñas has assured that he and the league are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of the players.
"If everything goes well, Manila Chooks TM will be the first team to represent the country in an international competition. If that is not enough motivation for these boys, I don't know what is," said Mascariñas.
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