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Cebu Chooks heads to Taiwan for Tainan Challenger

After an early exit at home, Cebu Chooks eyes payback at the Tainan Challenger. Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 (file photo)
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA—Cebu Chooks! will look to get back on track when it flies out this Friday for the FIBA 3x3 Tainan City Challenger which is set to take place on Oct. 22-23 at the Siraya Square in Tainan City Hall, Taiwan.

During the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas FIBA 3x3 World Tour Cebu Masters last October 1-2, the Cebu Chooks! squad dropped both its games in the group stage and failed to make it to the knockout round.

This time around, a roster made up of the country’s top 3x3 player and world no. 81 Mac Tallo, Brandon Ramirez, and Mike Harry Nzeusseu will be joined by former Ateneo captain Vince Tolentino in a tournament where the two finalists will earn tickets to the Hongkong Masters which is scheduled on Nov. 26-27.

The Chico Lanete-coached Cebu Chooks! is seeded in the main draw of the Tainan City Challenger where it is the ninth-seeded team in a crack field composed of some of the best in the world.

"Bounce back, that's the marching order to us by our team owner Ronald MascariƱas," said Lanete. "We are in the tail-end of the 2022 season so we need to finish strong.

"Hopefully, Vince can bring to the team what we lacked in the Cebu Masters, which is the hustle plays and the outside shooting," added the amiable head trainer.

The top-ranked team in the world, UB of Serbia, will be aiming to add to its growing collection of championship trophies. Leading the charge for the Serbians will be the best 3x3 player in the world, Strahinja “Dr. Strange” Stojacic, and world no. 3 Dejan Majstorovic.

Out to prevent the UB juggernaut will be world no. four Antwerp of Belgium which will be bannered by the same players who placed second in the Cebu Masters. Thibaut Vervoort, ranked 5th in the world, and Nick Celis, 9th in the world, will look to put on a show for the Taiwanese fans just as they did for the Filipino fans in Cebu.

Three other teams which joined the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Cebu Masters will also be in Taipei. These are world no. 8 Ulaanbaatar of Mongolia and world no. 23 Utsunomiya Brex of Japan who both made the quarterfinals in Cebu, and world no. 12 Jeddah of Saudi Arabia.

The other title contenders are world no. six Sakiai of Lithuania, world no. 10 Belgrade of Serbia, and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas World Tour Manila Masters quarterfinalist Warsaw of Poland.

At 26th in the FIBA 3x3 rankings, Cebu Chooks! is the highest-ranked Philippine team and has been toughened by the rigors of international basketball this year. The squad emerged champion of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Asia Pacific Super Quest held in Sta. Rosa City in April.

The team also made the quarterfinals of the Ulaanbaatar Super Quest in Mongolia, the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas World Tour Manila Masters in May, and the Penang Challenger in Malaysia in September.

Cebu Chooks! also saw action last March in the Dubai Expo Super Quest in the United Arab Emirates, the Lipik Challenger in Croatia last July, and the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas International Standalone Quest in September.

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