MANILA, Philippines -- Nueva Ecija guard Juan Gomez de Liano will sit out the second leg of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup, to be held at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna on Friday.
This, as the 20-year-old standout sustained an ankle injury in Wednesday's first leg, and Nueva Ecija opted to rest their playmaker. Gomez de Liano averaged 7.5 points in the first leg.
Tonino Gonzaga has been called up to take Gomez de Liano's place in Nueva Ecija's line-up.
The Rice Vanguards lost Gomez de Liano in their last assignment in the group stages, a game that also saw Mac Sabellina get ejected. They still made it all the way to the semifinals, where they bowed to eventual champion Zamboanga City-Family's Brand Sardines, 21-19.
"We just wanted to win. We just wanted to show we're still going to fight so you even saw Jai [Reyes] driving one against two," Gab Banal said of the fight they showed in the first leg.
Nueva Ecija will have to dig deep again in Leg 2, where they have been grouped with sister team Palayan City Capitals and rebound-seeking Saranggani Marlins in Pool A.
Zamboanga City, meanwhile, will look to build on an impressive run in the first leg that saw them go undefeated.
The heavy favorites topped their group before dismissing resurgent Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas-Porac and the fighting Rice Vanguards in the playoffs and then besting determined Butuan City-Uling Roasters in the finals, 21-17.
Down three in the last four minutes of the championship contest, Joshua Munzon sparked a 7-0 charge that propelled Family's Brand Sardines to the P100,000 cash prize.
Another P100,000 will be up for grabs in Leg 2.
Munzon and company will first have to go through Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors and Petra Cement-Roxas ZN in Pool B.
Bannering Pool C is Butuan, who came back with a vengeance en route to a runner-up finish, alongside Bicol-Paxful 3x3 Pro and Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes MLV.
In Pool D, Porac will duke it out with Bacolod-Master Sardines and Pagadian Rocky Sports.
The top two from each group advance into the quarterfinals and from there, knockout bouts will determine the champion which will receive P100,000, while the second- and third-placers get 30,000 and 20,000, respectively in this tournament.
P100,000 also remains at stake for whoever the opponent is if and when Zamboanga City makes the finals.
Meanwhile, the Slam Dunk Competition will again award P20,000 to whoever wows the most among Leg 1 champion Darwin Cantong, veteran David Carlos, and Jesus Manay.
Following the second leg will be two more legs every other day ahead of the grand finals of the FIBA 3x3-endorsed tournament scheduled for October 30.