MANILA, Philippines -- Manila Chooks TM will feature a new set of players when it competes in the 2021 FIBA 3x3 World Tour Doha Masters on March 26 to 27.
Cleared to represent the country for the Level 11 tournament are former pros Chico Lanete and Mac Tallo, as well as Zachy Huang and Dennis Santos.
The team, coached by Aldin Ayo, was able to clear their RT-PCR tests last Tuesday and are currently in home quarantine. They are set to leave for Doha on March 20.
Though handling a new team, Ayo, an 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.
The 41-year-old Lanete has been a professional in the full court game since 2006, before making his 3x3 debut last year with Uling Roasters-Butuan in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup.
Joining him are Tallo, who previously played for NLEX in the PBA, former University of Santo Tomas forward Huang, and 6-foot-5 stretch big 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.
The team is unfazed despite the tall task ahead of them.
"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 to 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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