MANILA, Philippines -- Manila Chooks TM on Wednesday left for Canada for the 2021 FIBA 3x3 Montreal Masters.
The delegation, composed of Mark Yee, Mac Tallo, Zachary Huang, Dennis Santos, and alternate player Chico Lanete, were cleared to leave after returning negative results from their RT-PCR tests.
The team left Manila at 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday. They are expected to arrive in Tokyo, Japan by 8 p.m. for a layover, before departing for Vancouver at 9:55 p.m. Upon arrival in Vancouver at 4:50 p.m. on Thursday, the team will hop on another plane, this time for Montreal.
They will be tested upon arrival in Montreal and isolated at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. The team will be allowed to train at the half-court of Montreal once cleared.
"Sobrang blessed (ako)," said Mark Yee, who is set to compete in his first FIBA 3x3 international pro circuit event. "Hindi naman natin maitatago na may edad na tayo para maimbitahan tayo sa ganito kalaking tournament."
At 39, Yee is the elder statesman of the team.
"Kumbaga, lagi ko lang iniisip na sobrang blessed talaga. Sa pagkakataon na ito, hindi ko naisip na mare-represent ko pa 'yung bansa natin sa FIBA sa tanda ko na ito," he added.
Manila Chooks TM will be up against tough opposition in the max level tournament, however.
They are in Pool D along with world No. 8 Antwerp of Belgium and No. 10 Edmonton of Canada. Their game against Antwerp will be on September 5 at 12:45 a.m. (Manila time), while Manila versus Edmonton is scheduled at 6:50 a.m. on the same day.
Antwerp features 6-foot-5 Nick Celes (World No. 23), Thibaut Vervoort (No. 28), 6-foot-6 Thierry Marien (No. 43), and 6-foot-6 Rafael Bogaerts (No. 72).
The last time a Filipino team faced Antwerp was back in the 2019 FIBA 3x3 Moscow Challenger that saw them down Pasig Chooks, 21-14.
Headlining Edmonton is World No. 32 Steve Sir. He will be joined by Alex Johnson, Dutch import Ross Bekkering, and the debuting Adika Peter-McNeilly.
The top two teams in Pool D will advance to the crossover playoffs on September 6 and will face either World No. 4 Ub of Serbia, Switzerland's Lausanne, or home team Old Montreal.
"Gustong-gusto naming bumawi kasi nabitin kami noong Doha Masters," said Lanete. "Every win and every point counts for us para makakuha tayo ng points para sa Olympics."
The tournament offers qualifying points for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.