|Mac Tallo looks to get past the Antwerp defense. FIBA|
MONTREAL--Manila Chooks TM was overwhelmed by world no. 8 Antwerp to open their 2021 FIBA 3x3 Montreal Masters Pool D campaign, 11-21 (6:46), early Sunday morning (Manila time) at the Place des Festivals.
The loss sent Manila Chooks TM to a must-win situation against world no. 10 Edmonton later at 6:50 a.m.. Edmonton will first face Antwerp at 2:35 a.m.
Though able to shut down rising 3x3 start and world no. 28 player Thibaut Vervoort, it was 6-foot-5 Nick Celis and 6-foot-6 Thierry Marien who did the damage for Antwerp -- a team that is composed of the Belgian national team that finished fourth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Marien dominated early, scoring six of Antwerp's first eight points for an 8-1 lead.
Zach Huang and Mark Yee tried to pump life to Manila Chooks TM as they cut the lead down to five, 10-5. However, a two-ball by Rafael Bogaerts sparked another 5-0 run for Antwerp.
Mac Tallo momentarily gained the hot hand, knocking down back-to-back deuces to sliced a once 10-point lead down to six, 10-16 with 4:18 left.
"I'm getting jealous of these fans," Vervoort said about the Overseas Filipino Workers in the venue that cheered their hearts out during Tallo's mini-run.
"I know they're cheering from home, but, yeah it's crazy to see how the Philippines supports their teams. It's really nice, really nice."
Celis was just too imposing for Manila Chooks TM, scoring the last five points for Antwerp--capping his run with a free throw with 3:14 left for game point.
Celis had nine points for Antwerp, going 7-of-8 from the field. Marien added eight markers as he went 6-of-6 from the field.
Manila Chooks TM, who shot just 8-of-21 from the field, was led by Tallo's five points. Yee and Huang finished with three markers each as Dennis Santos went scoreless.
The top two teams in the pool will advance to the knockout playoffs the next day.
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