Dennis Santos boomed in the game-winning two-pointer as an all-Filipino Manila Chooks! squad scored a thrilling 21-16 decision over Ashgabat of Turkmenistan late Sunday night, Mar. 12, to advance to the quarterfinals of the FIBA 3X3 Pro League Netherlands 2023 Winter Edition Stop 2 at the Amsterdam Velodrome.
The country’s No. 1 3×3 player Mac Tallo shone for Manila Chooks! with 11 points, including two straight that gave the Filipino cagers a 19-15 lead before Ashgabat closed in on at 16-19.
Santos chipped in five, while new additions CJ Payawal and Matt Salem, suiting up in lieu of injured big man Brandon Ramirez (knee) also had two points each.
The quartet of head trainer Chico Lanete also redeemed itself after it fell 9-22 to world No. 24 Düsseldorf of Germany in Pool B play earlier.
With the gutsy triumph, Manila Chooks! forged a quarterfinals duel with world No. 11 Utrecht of the Netherlands on Tuesday, March 14, at the same venue.
The Dutch tripped Manila Chooks 22-14 when they last met in Pool play in Stop 1 last Friday.
After the win, Lanete feels Manila Chooks! could get over the hump.
“Focus ang idiniin ko sa kanila. Alam na ng boys how to win here pero sabi ko sa kanila na kaya namin ulitin iyon as long as we stay consistent,” Lanete said. “Bawat minuto, bawat segundo hindi puwedeng mawala ang presence of mind.”
“We have the speed. We have the shooting. As long as ma-implement nila lahat ng ginawa namin sa ensayo, we can pull off another win pagdating sa quarterfinals,” he added.
The FIBA level 8 tourney will consist of three stops and a final, with the winner after three stops taking home $15,000 and a ticket to Manila Masters, while the second and third placers will bag $10,000 and $5,000.
In the final event, the top team will earn $15,000 and a slot to the Macau Masters.
The second and third placers will get $7,000 and $5,000, respectively.