Despite fielding a relatively overhauled all-Filipino line-up and losing Philippine No. 2 and prized big man Brandon Ramirez early in the tourney due to a knee injury, the Manila Chooks! 3×3 squad passed its initial test with flying colors.
Chooks-to-Go President and team owner Ronald Mascariñas gave the charges of head trainer Chico Lanete plaudits after their campaign in the FIBA 3X3 Pro League Netherlands 2023 Winter Edition in Amsterdam.
“This all-Filipino line-up exceeded all expectations, and they rallied behind Brandon (Ramirez) when he got injured which showed how much this team has developed as a unit,” Mascariñas said.
“CJ (Payawal) and Matt (Salem) proved that they deserve to play for the country together with Mac (Tallo) and Dennis (Santos),” he added.
More importantly, Chooks’ sustained efforts moved the country one spot higher from world No. 20 to No. 19 with 1,046,227 points, gaining 80,210 points from the Amsterdam joust, to boost its bid to make history— qualify for the Paris Olympics next year.
It was also a historic run for Manila Chooks! after it became the first team in Philippine 3×3 to advance to three straight quarterfinals in an international FIBA 3×3 Pro Quest tilt.
Payawal amassed 20,930 ranking points in the meet that had four stops to become Philippine No. 12, while Salem totaled 12,870 points to make it to the top 30.
For Mascariñas, the best is yet to come for the squad, which is set to hit the ground running anew for the Super Quest in Ulaanbaatar from April 22 to 23.
“Three quarterfinals appearances and elevating our world ranking to No. 19 pretty much checked all the boxes in my list of expectations,” the amiable executive and godfather of the 3×3 play in the country said.
“The more this team improves and learns to trust the process laid out by coach Chico, the more they will be a force to reckon with in the coming pro circuit.”