MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino teams face an uphill climb in the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Manila Masters, set for May 28-29 at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay.
Cebu Chooks is grouped in Pool A along with top overall seed Ub Huishan NE of Serbia and eighth seed Zavkhan MMC Energy of Mongolia.
Ub won the first leg of the 2022 FIBA 3x3 World Tour last May 14-15 in Utsunomiya, Japan, and remains among the favorites for the second leg in Manila. They are bannered by Utsunomiya Opener MVP Strahinja Stojacic and Dejan Majstorovic.
They can expect a stern test against Cebu Chooks, who will likely be backed by a passionate home crowd in Manila. Spearheading one of the two Philippine teams in the event are Mac Tallo and Mike Nzeusseu.
Manila Chooks, meanwhile, is in Pool D together with Mongolian squads Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy and Zaisan MMC Energy.
Manila Chooks will be boosted by semifinal finishes in two Super Quest events in Manila and Ulaanbaatar. They will lean on the tandem of veteran Chico Lanete and Henry Iloka in the group phase.
Pool C has been tabbed the Group of Death, as it features third-seeded Liman Huishan NE of Serbia and emerging squad Warsaw Lotto of Poland, along with Gurugram 3BL.
Pool B will have No. 2 seed Antwerp of Belgium and No. 7 seed Sansar MMC Energy of Mongolia. The third team in Pool B will come from the qualifying draw, which features Yokohama, Auckland, and Melbourne.
The FIBA 3x3 World Tour is a Level 10 event, the highest level of the "open" network of FIBA-endorsed events. This is the first Masters event in the Philippines since 2015.
To prepare for the Manila Masters, both Cebu Chooks and Manila Chooks trained under coach Aldin Ayo in recent months, while also competing in FIBA 3x3 events. In the past week, they have trained with Serbian teams Ub and Liman which arrived early to the country.
Aside from the 3x3 event, the Manila Masters will also feature a Slam Dunk Contest wherein Filipino high-flyer David Carlos will see action.