MANILA, Philippines -- Zamboanga City-Family's Brand Sardines will enter the first leg of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Presidents' Cup armed with plenty of momentum, after ruling the brief preseason on Monday.
Zamboanga City topped Bacolod-Master Sardines in a back-and-forth finals, 21-17, inside the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 members Joshua Munzon and Alvin Pasaol showed the way with seven and five points, respectively.
Bacolod was within one, 15-16, with less than five minutes to go before Munzon fired back-to-back longballs for a 20-16 edge.
Pasaol was then sent to the line with a chance to wrap it all up but missed.
After Chris Lalata pulled Master Sardines to only down three, Pasaol made up for his earlier miscue by converting an inside basket that sealed the deal.
By ruling the preseason tournament, Zamboanga City is already P50,000 richer even before the first leg of the 3x3 league kicks off.
"This meant bigger for us, because we lost," said Munzon, referring to their shock setback at the hands of Bicol in the qualifying round. "We learned to play every game like we mean it."
After that defeat, Zamboanga City rang off three wins in a row, the most impressive being a 21-14 domination of its semis showdown with fellow contender Nueva Ecija.
The Rice Vanguards, energized by Juan Gomez de Liaño, were coming off two straight convincing victories until running into Munzon, Pasaol, and company.
Nueva Ecija settled for third and a cash prize of P20,000.
The Bacolod team of Lalata, Anton Asistio, Choi Ignacio, Alfred Batino, and Robin Roño, which had an impressive run of its own, settled for P30,000.
Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors is the other semifinalist while comprising the quarterfinals are also Bicol-Paxful SMDC 3x3 Pro, Palayan City Capitals, Uling Roasters-Butuan, and Saranggani Marlins.
Completing the cast of teams are MLV Pagadian Rocky Sports, Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas-Porac, Petra Cement Rockies-Roxas ZN, and MLV Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes.
All 12 teams will duke it out anew in the first leg Wednesday and then three more legs every other day.
Just like the preseason tournament, the squads will be divided into four groups in each leg with the top two advancing into the quarterfinals. From there, knockout bouts will determine the champion.
Finally, P1 million will be up for grabs in the grand finals of the FIBA-endorsed tournament slated for October 30.