Manila Chooks TM, fielding a team of new faces, will go through the wringer in the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Doha Masters, set for March 26 to 27 at the Al Gharafa Sports Complex.
After losing their core to the PBA Rookie Draft, Manila Chooks now feature veteran Chico Lanete, Mac Tallo, Zachy Huang and Dennis Santos.
The team is grouped with Austria's Graz and home team Doha. They open their campaign in the qualifying draw on Friday evening, when they take on Graz at 7:30 p.m. followed by a showdown against Doha at 8:05 p.m.
Graz is headlined by Austria's No. 4 player, Matthias Linortner, and No. 11 Moritz Lanegger. Completing the squad are unranked players Fabricio Vay and Filip Krämer.
Qatar's No. 14 player Babacar Dieng leads the home team together with No. 11 Faisal Abuissa, Abdelrahman Yehia Abdelhaleem, and Souley Ndour.
Manila Chooks admit they will be at a disadvantage when it comes to size against their foes.
"We lack size since our big men have been affected by the quarantine measures here," said Lanete, who played for Uling Roasters-Butuan during the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup.
"We will be utilizing our speed and shooting," he added. "We are heading into Doha with an underdog mindset."
The top team will advance to the tournament proper and join USA's NY Harlem and Princeton in Pool D. NY and Princeton are No. 4 and 5, respectively, in the world club rankings. Pool games will also be played on March 26.
The FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters is a maximum-level (level 11) event. The champion will be awarded US$ 40,000.