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TH Tumalip says newly renamed Lubao squad to make most of rare shot for FIBA 3x3 WT glory in Cebu Masters

TH Tumalip looks forward to guarding former NBA player Jimmer Fredette in the FIBA 3x3 Cebu Masters if Lubao survives the qualifying pool. Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

CEBU CITY--Manila Chooks is not the only Filipino team competing in the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Cebu Masters as Lubao MCFASolver looks to make a surprise splash in the Level 10 FIBA 3x3 event down south this weekend.

Lubao clinched a spot in the Cebu Masters by ruling the Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Quest last month in Sta. Rosa City back when the team still represented Quezon City under the Wilcon Depot banner.

"Ang sarap sa feeling kasi minsan lang dumating yung mga ganitong opportunity. Pinaghandaan naman namin," TH Tumalip, one of two holdovers from the franchise's Chooks Quest squad that will play in the Cebu Masters, told Dugout Philippines after their practice on Friday night at the SM Seaside City Activity Center here.

Also returning for Lubao is Jose Blazquez, while former Cebu Chooks star Mike Harry Nzeusseu and Croatian 3x3 star Stanko Kujundzic complete the quarter.

Lubao misses Yutien Andrada, Keith Datu

Nzeusseu and Kujundzic came on after some technicalities denied Yutien Andrada and Keith Datu from joining them.

Cebuano fans would have loved seeing Datu, the fourth overall pick of the recent PBA Draft in Taguig, in action in the Cebu Masters before he makes the jump to PBA 5-on-5 action starting Nov. 5

"Sina Yutien Andrada at saka si Keith, talagang dito maglalaro, kaso naka-lineup sila sa [Pasig-]Talk 'n Text. Hindi sila matanggal. Buti na lang magaling ding maghanap si coach Anton (Altamirano) ng mga players. Napa-oo niya agad yung tingin niya magfi-fit sa system namin," Tumalip revealed.

Pasig-TNT tried to qualify for the Cebu Masters through the Quebec Challenger, but the team failed to make it to Day 2 despite an upset against Riga in Day 1 action.

Mike Harry Nzeusseu provides veteran smarts for Lubao

According to Tumalip, Kujundzic is a "lockdown shooter" who can also quickly adapt to the system being imposed.

Meanwhile, Nzeusseu was already a familiar face to the Cebuanos even before he joined Cebu Chooks as he starred for the University of the Visayas in CESAFI before transferring to Lyceum for the NCAA.

"Yung experience ni Mike, maraming binibigay sa main. Napaka-vocal niya. Magandang addition din kasi nakita mo yung presence niya sa ilalim. Kailangan talaga namin ng big guy na kayang mag-protect sa ilalim katulad nung ginagawa niya sa Chooks," Tumalip said, adding that Nzeusseu once joked to him that he lived here for 20 years.

Tumalip said that his club felt the tremendous support from its new backer, MCFASolver Tech Centrale.

"Napakabait ng mga boss namin. Lahat ng kailangan namin, kahit hindi pa namin kailangang sabihin kasi bago pa lang sila, parang alam na rin nila. Binibigay agad sa amin," he further said.

Lubao to undergo qualifying pool

Unlike Manila Chooks, which earned an outright place in the pool stages, Lubao MCFASolver would have to undergo a qualifying round on Saturday.

Lubao takes on Chinese Taipei's Taichung Hong Jia and New Zealand's Auckland for the last spot in the pool stages.

If Lubao rules the qualifying pool, it will next take on Miami, led by former NBA player Jimmer Fredette, and Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy in Pool D.

As early as now, Tumalip looks forward to facing Fredette, who first made a splash by starring for Brigham Young University in the US NCAA.

"Idol ko nga yang si Jimmer kasi super shooter yan. Scorer din. Excited akong makalaban yun kasi I take pride on defense. Yung makatapat ako ng mga ganung caliber, bigay ko lang yung best ko," Tumalip expressed his excitement on potentially battling Fredette.

But first, Lubao must top the qualifiers.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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