Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Monte Morris, Muggsy Bogues set to arrive for NBA 3X Philippines

Monte Morris drives for the layup. Photo via Getty Images
It's 3x3 season for the NBA, and on Friday, the league announced that Monte Morris of the Denver Nuggets and legend Muggsy Bogues will the guests of honor for the NBA 3X Philippines presented by AXA this coming August 3-4 at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall and the Philippine International Convention Center Forum Tent.

"I’m excited to experience the lively basketball culture of the Philippines and witness their unique style of play," said Morris. "NBA 3X will set an amazing atmosphere for fans to celebrate the game." The Iowa State alum played a huge role for the Nuggets in their ascent this past season, averaging 10.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.

"Returning to the Philippines is a great opportunity to reconnect with the passionate fans," said Bogues. "As the game continues to evolve, I’m eager to see how this translates to the 3-on-3 competition and look forward to a highly entertaining weekend of basketball lifestyle." The legend is the franchise leader in assists and steals for the Charlotte Hornets.

NBA 3X has been a fixture in the country since 2011, providing an opportunity for 3x3 basketball for both men and women, with the addition of interactive fan activities and authentic NBA entertainment. For the latter, the mascot of the recently-crowned NBA champions, the Raptor, will take care of such duties.

Six categories are available for boys (U-13, U-16, U-18, Open) and girls (U-18, Open) to field their entries. There is an exclusive division tailored for AXA employees and distributors, as well as the Celebrity Division.

Interested participants can check more details on www.nba3x.com/philippines. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, with a PhP 1,000 fee for the age-group divisions and PhP 1,600 for the open divisions. Participants will each receive a NBA 3x jersey, while special prizes await the champions of each division.

AXA Philippines is one of the newest partners of the NBA in the country, and NBA 3X Philippines will be coming off the heels of the recent launch of AXA's newest brand campaign, "Know You Can," which reminds its customers that a better life is within reach if they believe it can be achieved.

AXA Philippines President and CEO Raul Hora shares, "We at AXA Philippines are always excited to support NBA 3X Philippines year after year, and this one is no exception. Because of how much basketball is loved in this country, the game has become a great platform for us to encourage people to create a game plan in life – to take charge of their future by being prepared – and highlight our common principles of teamwork, integrity, courage, and innovation."

Aside from AXA Philippines, serving as official partners of NBA 3X Philippines 2019  are Gatorade, Nike, PLDT-SMART, and Vivo. ABS-CBN S+A, Basketball TV, and NBA Premium TV act as its official broadcast partners.

Philippines ascends in FIBA 3x3 World Rankings

BAVI head honcho Ronald Mascarinas, flanked by Chooks-to-Go Ambassadors Kai Sotto and Kobe Paras, and Butch Antonio of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Another milestone for 3x3 basketball in the Philippines was achieved in the aftermath of the recently-concluded Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Patriot's Cup presented by Coca-Cola.

Based from an update on the FIBA 3x3 standings last Sunday, the Philippines moved up to 24th in the world rankings, which is the highest they have achieved.

By making it to the top 24 in the world, the country would at least earn a spot in the Qualifying Tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

League owner Ronald Mascariñas shares, "This is a surprising development even for us. We started the year at 60 and many said that making it to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament was improbable.

"But with the people who believed in the dream, the team owners, the players, the sponsors, and the hard work of our staff, we were able to crack the top 24," he adds.

Coming into the Grand Finals of the Patriot's Cup, the Philippines was in 28th place with 6,257,888 points.

After the tournament, which is classified as a level-8 tournament by FIBA, the country tacked on 434,452 points, moving it past the Dominican Republic, Canada, Indonesia, and Switzerland to be ranked 24th overall.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is very much appreciative of the efforts of the likes of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 in raising the profile of the sport and improving the nation's standing in the global 3x3 scene.

SBP president Al Panlilio shares, "Chooks-to-Go as a private promoter has been instrumental in helping the country increase its federation rankings and we are thankful to them."

He adds, "Our Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 national teams’ participation in international tournaments combined with local activations initiated by Smart Communications and other local promoters have also helped the Men’s and Women’s rankings in the Open, U-23, and U-18 categories."

The federation provided assistance to Chooks-to-Go with regards to their participation in FIBA-sanctioned tournaments, whilst the national team recently took part in the 2019 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup.

Eight slots are allocated for Olympic 3x3 basketball, both for men's and women's. Hosts Japan already snapped up a spot, with the top three nations in the FIBA 3x3 rankings by November 1, 2019 will also earn spots.

Three spots will be handed out to the winners of three Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, which one has to be in the top 24 of the rankings to automatically earn such a bid.

A final spot will be awarded to the champion of the Universality-driven OQT that takes place on April 2020.

Now that the Philippines has reached the top 24, the goal has evolved to maintaining that standing, which entails conducting additional tournaments and participation in international meets.

Panlilio says, "We are truly headed towards the right direction and the SBP is overwhelmed by the support of private organizers who have significantly contributed in SBP’s mission to continuously improve in our world ranking to enable us to qualify to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."

Mascariñas adds, "The fight is not yet over. Yes, we are happy that we made it to the top 24 but the challenge now is to maintain our standing or go even higher."

The BAVI head honcho also revealed a couple of new developments, "We are currently in talks with FIBA to host a Manila Challenger this September. Wilkins-Balanga is also preparing for the Bucharest Challenger this August. We are already preparing for our third conference, which is the Magiting Cup."

The option to potentially bid for the chance to host an OQT is on the table as well, in case the Philippines falls out of the Top 24 by the cutoff date.

Basilan claim Patriot's Cup title

Your Patriot's Cup champion
Newcomers Phenom-Basilan Steel-CTC Construction established themselves as the newest force in the 3x3 scene in the country, claiming the final leg of the Chooks Pilipinas 3x3 Patriot's Cup presented by Coca-Cola.

The Steel cruised by Tycoon Ballers-Quezon City, 21-4 in the quarterfinals before dispatching second leg champions VetHealth Delhi 3x3BL in the semifinals, 21-14. They would then cap it off by defeating Wilkins-Balanga Pure 21-20 in an overtime thriller.

With the game ending at 19-all after ten minutes, Balanga managed to get ahead after a Karl Dehesa layup. But the rules dictate that the winning team needs to score two points to claim a victory, and Troy Rike made a quick hand off to Franky Johnson, who then made his way towards the right corner, where he heaved a fadeaway deuce over Dehesa's outstretched arms.

After the heave made it through the net, pandemonium ensued.

Franky shares, "Everything was just moving so fast. I wasn’t even thinking about that shot, but as soon as my teammate got the rebound and got the ball to me, I was just kinda open a little bit so I just decided to pull it. Thank God it went in, so I’m really excited about that."

For Rike, it's back-to-back titles, after being part of Grindhouse-Pasig that claimed the President's Cup earlier this year. Regarding the game-winner, he says, "The play didn’t come off as cleanly as we wanted, but that’s what I’m saying. I trust Franky, I believe in Franky and he’s one hell of a shooter. So I know that if I give him even an inch of space, I knew he was gonna knock it down."

Marcus Hammonds led all scorers with nine points, with a returning Roosevelt Adams adding five markers.

By winning, Basilan not only earn a million pesos but also gets slotted into the Jeddah Masters of the 3x3 World Tour this coming October.

Alvin Pasaol led Balanga with eight markers, while Marcus Hammonds added seven points. They will not go home empty handed, as they get PhP 400,000 and a slot at the Xiongan Challenger scheduled this August. They outlasted rivals Gold's Gym-Pasig in the semifinals, 21-17.

The President's Cup champions finished in third place and snaps up PhP 200,000.

Team Manager Jackson Chua was overjoyed with the result, says "Wala akong masabi. It couldn't get more exciting as this. Ang hirap ng dinaanan namin. No better way to end it."

In the side events, Kiran Shastri completes the sweep of the Coca-Cola Two-Point Shootout, while David Carlos and Brodie Stephens were crowned as co-champions at the Coca-Cola Slam Dunk Competition.

The Scores:

Phenom-Basilan 21 - Hammonds 9, Adams 5, Johnson 5, Rike 1.

Wilkins-Balanga 20 - Pasaol 8, Franklin 7, De Chavez 3, Dehesa 2.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Oftana named Player of the Week

Calvin Oftana. Photo c/o San Beda Sports on Facebook.
Defending champions San Beda continues their domination in the NCAA, remaining undefeated in Season 95 four games in.

In their lone game last week, a 73-59 win over title hopeful San Sebastian this past Friday, one guy stood out the most.

Veteran forward Calvin Oftana almost had a triple-double against the Golden Stags, falling three assists short, ending up with ten points, ten rebounds, and seven dimes. He scored eight of those points in the final period, including a couple of triples, allowing the Red Lions to pull away and preserve their unblemished record.

Such a feat got the attention of the writers that comprise the Collegiate Press Corps, who rewarded that performance with this week's Chooks-to-Go NCAA Player of the Week nod, beating out Renzo Navarro of Lyceum, Ato Ular of Letran, Jimboy Pasturan of College of Saint Benilde, and Kent Salado of Arellano.

Head coach Boyet Fernandez shared to the media after their victory, "Calvin made his shots in the fourth. He had been missing that in the first quarters, but I told them if they’re open, they should take it." He added, "I’m happy with the way he played today and hopefully, maging consistent pa lalo si Calvin."

But for the 6'5" forward, the focus remains on working his way to becoming a reliable and consistent big man for San Beda, having inherited the majority of the production left behind by current Rain or Shine rookie Javee Mocon. He says, "Sobrang mahirap, pero dinodoble ko yung effort ko para mag-improve. Para may ipakita naman ako this season."

Friday, July 26, 2019

Third Season of PFF Women’s League set for weekend kickoff

Philippine Football Federation General-Secretary Atty. Ed Gastanes with some of the participants at the PFF Women's League.
The Philippines' top women's football tournament marks its third season this weekend, with the start of the PFF Women's League.

Organized and sanctioned by the Philippine Football Federation, the PFF Women's League is comprised of ten teams competing in a double round-robin league format, with each side playing eighteen matches for a total of ninety fixtures that will run until December 2019.

PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes shares, "Women’s football continues its ascendancy in the country through our women national team and the PFF Women’s League. We thank FIFA for supporting the PFF in its women’s football development initiatives. We look forward to another thrilling third season of the PFF Women’s League."

Four of the five teams who participate in the UAAP are involved in the Women's League, led by defending champions La Salle and last season's runner-up in the league, UST. Season 81's losing finalist Far Eastern University and the University of the Philippines are also involved, with Ateneo de Manila opting to stay in the sidelines for this particular campaign.

Completing the cadre of teams involved in the third year running are notable women's club sides Green Archers United and Hiraya FC, the latter of which has tied up with PFL side Stallion Laguna.

Tuloy FC also returns after making their season debut, while serving as this year's newcomers are historic side Nomads FC, as well as and Maroons FC and Tigers FC.

Matches are currently being played at the PFF National Training Centre inside the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park in Carmona, Cavite, with the potential of future matches being played at certain schools in the future. All fixtures so far have been currently slated for weekend mornings, but the possibility exists that games could be played during weekdays.

Supported by FIFA through its Forward Programme, the PFF Women's League utilizes the MyPFF online registration system for all its players and coaches. It also serves as part of the preparations for the Senior Women's National Team for their upcoming competitions this year: the AFF Women's Championship this coming August in Chonburi, Thailand and the 30th Southeast Asian Games later the Philippines is hosting this year. Most of the players that comprise the national team pool are participating in the tournament.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Philam Vitality KAMPEON 7s Cup set this weekend

7s Football League boss Anton del Rosario flanked by Philam Life executives, Faezal Murni of Brunei 7s, and former Philippines international Belay Fernando
With the backdrop of a successful third season, the 7s Football League is set to make even more milestones in the months ahead, starting this coming weekend.

Top-quality seven-a-side football is on tap with the Philam Vitality KAMPEON 7s Cup, as the best of Metro Manila bands together to go up against the best that their counterparts in Bacolod, Cebu, and Davao have to offer in a two-day All-Star Tournament to determine which region has the best 7s side.

The announcement of the tourney was made in Makati last week, with the presence of Philam Life officials, led by Branding and Communications Head Bernadette Chincuanco, Philam Vitality program head Kats Cajucom, and Chief Marketing Officer Leonard Tan.

Del Rosario shares, "The 7s Football League is in four major cities across the nation now: Manila, Bacolod, Cebu, and Davao. In order to bring it all together, I thought it would be best to create a tournament to see who the best is in the country. What I have done together with Philam Vitality is to have these cities put together all-star teams composed of 10 Filipinos and four imports to represent their cities. We will be flying teams to Manila to compete on July 27 and 28 to see who the best in the country. That's what the KAMPEON 7s is all about: creating opportunity for people across the country."

From Philam Life's perspective, both Chincuanco and Cajucom appreciate the benefits their partnership with the 7s Football League has yielded.

The former says, "We would like to congratulate Anton and the 7s Football League for the KAMPEON 7s Cup launch. It is a truly fitting follow-up for our 7s Football League. We were all witnesses to how the league grew by leaps and bounds, having a youth and women's league. Now, Anton and the team are spreading it outside Manila, giving us the opportunity to spread the positive impact of people and allowing Philam Life to work with them and do more football clinics at the grassroots level. We would like to thank Anton for the opportunity for allowing us to partner with him. We are very happy and we like what we are seeing. We are going to partner with him in this journey."

The latter adds, "We are very honored to partner and be the title sponsor of the KAMPEON 7s Cup as it aligns with Philam Vitality's goals to help Filipinos live a longer, healthier, better life. Philam Vitality is a wellness program that rewards people for making healthy choices, like playing football. This is something we introduced to the Philippines a few years back because we want to communicate that healthy living is indeed rewarding and what better way to demonstrate it by partnering with the KAMPEON 7s Cup."

Aside from the KAMPEON 7s Cup, the 7s Football League is also looking to get themselves into the regional scene, with plans for a dual meet against their Brunei counterparts this coming October, with the potential of holding a mini-Southeast Asian 7s football tournament by February 2020.

One of del Rosario's partners in the Brunei 7s Football League was present at the launch. Faezal Murni says, "How I decided to partner with Anton is I like his initiative and platform. The 7s is now on a national level and he is trying to bring it to the Southeast Asian regional level. That's what I like about this initiative and the Brunei partners are very happy to join him in this project. It has a very good potential for the 7s industry."

Del Rosario shared that talks are ongoing with Fernando with regards to how to help grow the game for females, as well as entertained the prospects of holding fund raisers for cancer patients during 7s Football League events, whether at the KAMPEON 7s Cup or in the upcoming fourth season.

The cancer survivor and former Philippine international footballer shares, "I've been interested in starting to raise funds for people who are diagnosed with cancer. In the previous year, I have been blessed with cancer. Why blessed? Because I was able to see and undergo how difficult it can be and how you can't do it without the support of your family and friends."

She adds, "Anton is a very good friend of mine and what we want to do is start perhaps with booths at the KAMPEON 7s Cup and invite current and former athletes to donate jerseys, shoes, and whatever they can commit for a raffle to raise funds. It became a fruitful discussion with the partners Philam Life and Philam Vitality who mentioned they do work with a charity that is in line with what I want to launch."

The just-concluded third season of the Philam Life 7s introduced a women's division, with Outkast FC being its first inaugural champions, and although the upcoming KAMPEON 7s Cup does not have a women's division matchup, the possibility of having one in the future could be in play.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Kaya FC sets up women's team

Kaya FC is setting up a women's team
Off the backdrop of the recently concluded FIFA Women's World Cup, and with the Philippines' work in the recent Olympic Qualifiers moving them up their best-ever ranking, women's football is on the up and up.

And with this wave of awareness and recognition, Kaya Futbol Club is about to ride it.

The team officially announced its intent to establish its senior women's team, making the first step by tapping current Senior Women's National Team head coach Marnelli Dimzon as its first head coach.

As a player, she won three titles with Far Eastern University, and spent a decade playing midfield for the national team. Moving into coaching, she led FEU to four UAAP titles, while also taking the help of the U-14 Girls to a runner-up finish in AFF regional play. In taking the helm of the national team, she shepherded the team in being a whisker away from FIFA Women's World Cup qualification, as well as getting the team into the second round of Qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Compared to its Men's and Youth sides, both of which have been able to participate in competitions here and abroad, they will be starting from the ground up with its women's team.

General Manager Paul Tolentino shares, "Because we are late in entering this segment of football, we needed to show our serious intentions to this endeavor. It’s important to make clear that we’re committed to making this as successful as possible."

He adds, "Watching the Women’s World Cup made me ask, ‘What were we doing not providing an avenue for women’s football?’  It became glaringly obvious that a club of Kaya’s caliber, which competes continentally as well as domestically, should be involved in bringing our structure and passion to this area of the game. We needed to get our act together and get this off the ground immediately."

Tapping Dimzon, the club believes, reflects their intentions. Tolentino says, "Her being a successful national team player, and now coach, is an exciting prospect for us."

Aside from naming Dimzon as their head coach, Kaya FC has also set up its initial date for tryouts, scheduling it on Thursday night, July 25, at the BGC Turf between 6-8pm.

With a coach now under their belt, the search now is for the players, one that Tolentino believes should "embody the club culture," and could compete in the available leagues.

With the PFF Women's League already set to start soon, Tolentino is potentially eyeing competing in the likes of the 7s Football League to get themselves ready.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Letran's Bonbon Batiller emerges as Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Sports Press Corps NCAA Player of the Week

Photo from Gelay Davocol via Facebook.
Bonbon Batiller has not had a good start for NCAA Season 95.

No thanks to his offseason shoulder surgery, the guard is averaging a couple of points and three turnovers in just under eight and a half minutes per game in the first couple of games for Letran.

The next two games revealed a different Batiller.

This past Tuesday, the UE transfer led the Knights with fourteen points in a 55-43 win over then-winless Jose Rizal University. He then followed that with team-high 22 points last Friday in their 82-80 overtime victory over Perpetual, a team led by a fellow UE transfer in Edgar Charcos.

Batiller's explosion allowed Letran to extend their winning streak to three matches after their opening day defeat to Lyceum. At 3-1, they are good enough to be in fourth place in the league behind currently undefeated San Beda, College of Saint Benilde, and San Sebastian.

He shared to the media later on, "Para sa akin, si coach Bonnie, talagang yung mga leaders, china-challenge niya. Talagang kailangan naming mag-step up. Kaya para sakin, gagawin ko ang lahat para maabot ko yung expectation niya rin sa akin para makatulong ako sa team as a leader at senior."

Batiller beat out his teammate Ato Ular, San Sebastian's veteran duo of RK Ilagan and Allyn Bulanadi, Lyceum's Jayson David, San Beda's James Canlas, and JRU's Agem Miranda for the Player of the Week nod, which is handed out to a deserving player by the print and online media covering the Grand Old League.

Football student-athletes benefit from Leo Rey Yanson contributions

University of St. La Salle student athletes.
Leo Rey Yanson's midas touch as a football patron is not just with his club Ceres Negros FC, but it even extends to collegiate football at the University of St. La Salle.

The Ceres-Negros FC owner and alumnus is a staunch supporter of USLS, especially in football, with about 110 student-athletes availing of his scholarship program at the Bacolod-based university.

Some have since taken advantage of this opportunity to eventually play their way into the professional ranks, including stints at the Philippines Football League, whilst others have been able to carve their own successful paths after completing their degree.

One such example of the latter is Marson de la Torre, who played midfield earlier in this decade for USLS and is now working for a European bank. He shares, "After we started in 2012 as Ceres-La Salle, we were champions in NOPSCEAA and even in UNIGAMES because of his support."

He adds, "Before, we only used to play solely in Negros, but because of LRY (Yanson) we were able to participate and even became champions in the National PRISAA which was held in Pangasinan."

De la Torre, who completed his degree in interdisciplinary studies, concludes, "His words really made a mark, especially for me because I come from a poor family. LRY emphasized the value of education and that getting our diplomas would be the biggest trophy we can give him in return." He recalls how Yanson reminds them of the importance of earning their degrees knowing that life is more than just playing the sport of football.

Meanwhile, some of the USLS graduates who have been able to enter the pro ranks include Joshua Dutosme of Ceres-Negros FC and Jo Warren Bedia of Stallion Laguna FC.

Reflecting on this, the latter shares, "I was just a kid from Calinog, Iloilo who likes to kick the ball and ended up getting a degree from La Salle Bacolod. Now, I've fulfilled my desire to be a professional football player in the Philippines. I would like to thank Boss LRY for all the support since day one. I hope that he can help other kids who want to champions on and off the pitch."

Friday, July 19, 2019

Weekend ready for SBP Coaches Summit

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will be having its Coaches' Summitt on July 20-21 at the Meralco Fitness Center in Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City.

The Summit is in partnership with FIBA Singapore and Oceania Executive Director David Crocker, and will take place between 9-5pm on both days.

The SBP brought in a couple of Australians to serve as foreign clinicians: Damian James Cotter, who has seventeen years of national coaching experience, and current Melbourne United head coach Dean Vickerman.

Among the local coaches serving as clinicians for this summit are SBP Coaches Academy director Jong Uichico, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao, Gilas Pilipinas Youth head coach Sandy Arespacochaga, and Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines President Louie Gonzalez.

The SBP Coaches' Summit is the first-ever FIBA Coaches' Summit that the SBP is hosting and presenting, with the aim of uplifting the knowledge of a tactician, as well as equip, empower, and assist them in improving their team's performance. Since this is open as well for coaches in neighboring ASEAN member-countries, it is also an opportunity for them to help grow the interest of the sport in their respective nations.

Interested parties may register thru platinumlist.net.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

SBP Coaches' Summit set this weekend

When the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas decided to reveal its internal restructuring earlier this year, one of its six pillars led to the establishment of the SBP Academy for Coaches.

SBP President Al Panlilio shares, "Investing in the development of our coaches enables us to raise the number of players that we will help improve exponentially. For every coach we help, that's at the very least twelve more players who will benefit and a lot of these will be younger players."

He adds, "We all know that the future of our basketball program is dependent on the development of our grassroots and great coaching allows us to address that issue at a very early stage."

To help establish that message, the federation is set to hold the SBP Coaches' Summit. Set to take place from July 20-21, 2019 at the Meralco Fitness Center, it is the culmination of the efforts of the Coaches' Commission, led by its head, Jong Uichico, after making the nationwide rounds for the past year.

The summit will feature Uichico, NBA G-League assistant coach Damian Cotter, NBL champion coach Dean Vickerman, current Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 league commissioner Eric Altamirano, and Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines head coach Louie Gonzalez.

The Bataan Risers head coach shares, "This is a bigger project since we have international coaches and three local coaches. Most of the topics will be done by the Australian coaches Dean Vickerman and Damian Cotter." He adds, "It's good for our local coaches since we won't be discussing just X's and O's but also the other side of basketball."

Uichico reflected back on his younger days as a head coach. He says, "When I started coaching, I attended a lot of clinics and I had to pay for it to attend abroad. The SBP is bringing it to the Philippines. It's a big savings dahil sila na ang pupunta sa atin. This is also in cooperation with FIBA so the coaches have FIBA licenses."

Panlilio adds, "From experience, the coaches know just how passionate Filipinos are about basketball and about learning more about the sport so they are always excited to be here. But we cannot forget the work that our local coaches such as coach Jong Uichico are putting in. We appreciate the help of international coaches but we also know that our own coaches also impart a lot of knowledge all over the country."

Gonzalez is thankful for such an event to take place, as it allows some of the best basketball minds to be under one roof, sharing their know-how. He says, "I would like to thank the SBP especially Coach Jong. This is an important event for all the taskmasters. Being a student of the game, learning new approaches and techniques while also aligning the programs of the provinces to the national scale is big for us."

Supporting the SBP Coaches' Summit are the MVP Sports Foundation, SMART, Chooks-to-Go, and Blackwater, while also being backed by Cignal, Gatorade, Jollibee, Kopiko, Maynilad, Mighty Sports, and Panda Clinique.

Interested participants can register via Platinumlist through this link.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Balanga claims Patriot's Cup fourth leg

Balanga claims the fourth leg.
Wilkins-Balanga topped the penutimate leg of the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Patriot's Cup presented by Coca-Cola this past weekend, becoming the fourth different winner of the tournament as it heads to the Grand Final in a couple of weeks.

Balanga defeated their arch-rivals Gold's Gym-Pasig, 21-17 in the final, their first finals meeting in the Patriot's Cup.

This would not have been possible if not for the return of Leonard Santillan, who impressed on his Patriot's Cup debut. The former La Salle standout was a key cog for Balanga in their President's Cup stint where they finished second. Leonard says, "Yun lang nasa isip ko. Sabi ko sa sarili ko nakapag bumalik ako ng 3x3, dapat champion ako. Na-miss ko yung larong ito."

Alvin Pasaol shared after their win, "Laking bagay ni Santi kasi lalo kaming lumaki. Grabe din yung mga shots niya."

Trailing 8-9 midway into the final, a Santillan deuce sparked a 7-2 run to enable Balanga to establish a 15-11 lead. But the duo of Taylor Statham and Joshua Munzon battled back for the Kings to be down 18-16 with 2:29 remaining.

A returning Prince Orizu managed to make it a two-possession game, before Pasaol got Balanga to the hill with 115 seconds remaining.

The UE standout finished things off with a tough runner over Nikola Pavlovic and Statham with 86 seconds left to end the game and secure the PhP 100,000 bag.

Pasaol and Santillan scored eight and seven points, respectively, with Karl Dehesa adding five markers.

Munzon led all scorers with ten points.

The Grand Final is set to provide some fireworks with both Balanga, Pasig, Phenom-Basilan Steel-CTC Construction, and VetHealth-Delhi 3x3BL all having a shot at winning the tournament, as all four teams have a clear shot at topping the points table.

Pasig and Balanga are tied at 310 points, although the Kings get the second seed while the Pure secure the third seed.

Even though they missed the finals for the first time in the Patriot's Cup, Basilan remain the top seed with 330 points. The Steel lost to Pasig in the semifinals, 17-7.

Delhi is in fourth at 290 points after being downed by Balanga in the semifinals, 21-20.

All four teams have secured quarterfinal spots, with the fifth and final leg adopting a different format from the previous four legs. The remaining eight teams will enter into a knockout format with the matchups depending on their seeding.

Awaiting the tournament champion is PhP 1,000,000 and a ticket to the Jeddah Masters of the 2019 FIBA 3x3 World Tour.

In the side events, Kiran Shastri continues his dominance in the Coca-Cola Two-Point Shootout, defeating Franky Johnson in the final to claim his fourth straight title. However, David Carlos was not able to defend his Coca-Cola Slam Dunk title, as Jebb Bulawan ended that streak.

The Scores:

Wilkins-Balanga 21 - Pasaol 8, Santillan 7,  Dehesa 5, Orizu 1.

Gold's Gym-Pasig 17 - Munzon 10, Statham 6, Ababou 1, Pavlovic 0.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Jethro Mendoza is first NCAA Player of the Week for Season 95

Just a week into the NCAA Season 95 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Jethro Mendoza has already given Emilio Aguinaldo College a signature moment to remember this season.

Mendoza hit the go-ahead layup with 1.5 seconds remaining as the Generals pulled off a stunning 84-82 upset over Lyceum last Friday at Filoil Flying V Centre.

That game-winner alone was more than enough for the sweet-shooting guard to earn the season's first Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps NCAA Player of the Week.

It capped off an eight-point fourth quarter for the graduating guard, finishing the game with a team-high 21 points to lead EAC in the victory, their first against the Pirates since 2016 and arguably the biggest win in school history since their win over Letran in 2015.

Jethro buried six triples to anchor his scoring explosion, while also tallying four rebounds, two assists, and a steal, committing zero turnovers in 26 minutes of action, helping the Generals fend off a Pirate comeback after they erected an eighteen-point lead.

He shared to the media afterwards, “Sabi lang namin, atin ‘to, lalaban tayo hanggang matapos. Kahit na nakakahabol na sila, gawin lang namin ‘yung tama.”

It also helped that first-year head coach Oliver Bunyi has full trust in his deadshot shooter.

“I was telling them, even if Jethro is doing 0-of-10 in the first part, I will still trust him to take the ball outside. That’s his job. ‘Yun naman, naging successful siya,” said Bunyi.

Mendoza bested Jerrick Balanza of Letran, RK Ilagan of San Sebastian, Jaycee Marcelino of Lyceum, Edgar Charcos of Perpetual, and the San Beda troika of James Canlas, Evan Nelle and Donald Tankoua for the weekly award handed out by scribes from print and online covering the beat.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Balanga activates Santillan for Patriots Cup

He's back. Leonard Santillan returns to Balanga for the Patriot's Cup.

The fourth leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Patriot's Cup presented by Coca-Cola is set to take place tomorrow, and with the race for the top spot as close as it is, teams are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to finish the tournament on top.

Foremost in that quest is Wilkins-Balanga Pure, who have gone back to an old reliable for this penultimate leg, replacing Chris de Chavez with Leonard Santillan.

Currently the top-ranked Under-23 Filipino in the FIBA 3x3 rankings at 51st overall, Santillan was part of Balanga's run towards four finals appearances in the President's Cup, will make his Patriot's Cup debut at the SM Megamall Events Center. He joins Alvin Pasaol, Karl Dehesa, and Travis Franklin as they seek to build on the momentum they got from securing their first finals berth during the third leg this past weekend, with the squad in fourth place with 220 points.

Speaking of momentum, Basilan Steel is now atop the leaderboard after finally nailing their first title with 260 points. They will still be without Roosevelt Adams for this leg, with the Fil-Am committed to see action for Mighty Sports in the Jones Cup after missing the last leg with an injury. After tapping Gab Dagangon last week, the Steel will look to Brandon Hunter to fill the void alongside Franky Johnson, Troy Rike, and Marcus Hammonds.

With just a 30-point lead over VetHealth-Delhi and Gold's Gym-Pasig, Basilan recognize the situation they are in. Johnson shares, "We can't be complacent. We have to work on our plays and continue to build chemistry with each other."

The 3x3BL veterans are coming off a semifinal loss to the Steel, doing so with just three guys as AJ Gill was not available.

The Kings, on the other hand, missed out on the last leg due to their participation in the Poitiers Challenger at the 3x3 World Tour, where they finally got a victory that proved to be enough to get them into the knockout rounds, where they finished eighth overall. League organizers have rewarded them for their effort in France with the appropriate number of points to move them into a tie with Delhi at 230 points.

Taylor Statham shares, "We can't wait to show what we've learned from our France experience."

As for the others, Max4-Birada Cebu is looking to make it back-to-back semifinal appearances as it taps Mark Penerio for Jerome Napao, while Zamboanga Valientes MLV replaces Ola Adeogun with Darius Scott.

Pool play starts at 1045am tomorrow with coverage spread all across the ESPN5 social media footprint, with TV5 telecast scheduled at 1pm.

Teams have been allocated into these groups:

Pool A: Phenom-Basilan CTC Construction, Mindoro Tamaraws, Zamboanga Valientes MLV
Pool B: Wilkins-Balanga Pure, Max4-Birada Cebu, Marikina Shoemasters
Pool C: VetHealth-Delhi 3x3BL, Inoza-Gulf Bulacan, Thunder-Pateros Hunters
Pool D: Gold's Gym-Pasig, Tycoon-Ballers Quezon City, MiGuard-Vigan

AMA University dominates Taiwan Excellence 3x3 Hoop Challenge

The Paras brothers with Clement Chen and Eric Altamirano
To close out the month of June, Taiwan Excellence held a 3x3 tournament to showcase the athletic prowess of almost eight hundred young athletes.

192 teams took part in qualifying for two divisions, one for the 16-18 year-old and the other for those 19 years old and above. The first phase of qualifying took place at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City last June 22, with the top eight of each division getting the chance to play at the SM Megamall Events Center last June 29-30.

AMA University wound up dominating both divisions, with Annie's Way AMA 1 (Zheanriz Romero, Joshua Villamor, Josh Reymond Colina, Earl Bryan Ceniza) defeating FECA AMA 3 (Darryl Durante, Joshua Seda, Allen Rodriguez, Cymond Santos) in the final of the 16-18 division, while Annie's Way AMA 2 (Jayr dela Rosa, Joshua Sabile, Alec Catorce, Christian Germino) beat FECA AMA 4 (Alvin Fuentes, Rochil Saor, Nikon Alina, Moustapha Mama) in the final of the Open Division.

Last year featured Doug Kramer and JC Intal as its Hoop Challenge ambassadors, with this edition now features Andre and Kobe Paras taking on that role. Both were present during the final day of competition last June 30. They also got the chance to check out the exhibit of the different brands under Taiwan Excellence that were also located at the Events Center.

The success of AMA in the Hoop Challenge brought a smile to the face of the elder Paras, who spent a portion of his collegiate and semi-professional stint with the school.

Taiwan External Trade Development Council Strategic Marketing Department director Chun Tse Wu shares, "We want this to be an avenue to inspire young Filipinos to always strive to reach their very best, in the same way Taiwan Excellence pushes its brands to always innovate and upgrade."

Aside from the 3x3 Hoop Challenge, Taiwan Excellence is scheduled to have its eSports Cup this coming October 4-6.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

OMNI Football Cup: Fight to the Finish set for Saturday

On tap this Saturday
The McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig will once again serve as a hub for football, with the second edition of the OMNI Football Cup set to take place this Saturday, starting at 4pm.

Sponsored by OMNI Electrical and Lighting and toting a tagline Fight to the Finish, the OMNI Football Cup is a one-day seven-a-side football tournament that features over three hundred football players spread across 24 teams in two divisions.

Event Direct Al Alde shares, "We are excited, and the teams are excited. We have so many things in store for this Saturday and we hope everything goes well so we can truly show the football community what an amazing event we can put out. And hopefully, we can maintain a great showing and further improve what we can put out for the football community for the next OMNI Cup!"

Division 1 will have Fairview Amigos FC, All Stars Foot, PayMigas - TDG FC, Matampay United, Panna FC, and Trident FC in Group A, while Batmen United, Gators FC, Suicide Squad Team Kawaii, Stifler FC, Haphets FC, and Luntian United are in Group B.

Division 2 will have Metro Aguilas FC, Alcoholics United FC, Suicide Squad Team Morryzle, McCann United, Philippine Coast Guard FC, and Galastars-DNO A in Group, while Galastars-DNO B, Maningning United, Pendejo FC, Underground FC, Polaris FC, and Groundsbury FC make up Group B.

Division 1 sides are mandated to field a female on-field at all times, with Division 2 sides requiring three females on-field.

Teams are to face their fellow groupmates in 15-minute matches, with the top four teams of each group advancing to the knockout rounds, with cup and plate champions to be determined.

Aside from the football, tons of prizes, freebies, and giveaways will be handed out.

Serving as event partners for OMNI Cup: Fight to the Finish are Head and Shoulders Philippines, MADs Essentials: Food for the Skin, Underground Football, Suicide Squad FC, Fundador, Pik-Nik, and Poke Shack, with Manila Bulletin, Fox Sports Philippines, and Balita Sports acting as its media partners.

More details about the OMNI Cup can be seen on their Facebook page.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Basilan claims first Chooks 3x3 title

New leg. New Champion. Welcome to the club, Phenom Basilan Steel CTC Construction

The third time is the charm, they said.

Phenom Basilan Steel CTC Construction claimed the third leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Patriots' Cup presented by Coca-Cola on Saturday afternoon at the SM Center Muntinlupa.

Fresh from their maiden appearance in the FIBA 3x3 World Tour at the Haining Challenger last week, the Steel finally won the big one after falling short in the final in the previous two legs, defeating the other team that went to China with them, Wilkins Balanga Pure, 21-16 with 96 seconds remaining.

Franky Johnson shares, "We deserve this." He adds, "We did this for the whole province of Basilan. That's our goal, to redefine Basilan."

The Steel lost to Gold's Gym Pasig, 21-15 in the first leg and followed that with a heart-breaking 21-20 defeat to VetHealth-Delhi in the second leg.

It was a nip-and-tuck battle against Balanga to cap off the day, featuring four deadlocks. Marcus Hammonds then produced an and-1 that broke a 13-all tie, that was then followed by a Troy Rike basket.

Alvin Pasaol and Johnson exchanged two's, but Pasaol would miss a couple of free throws and then Rike would extend the Steel's lead to four with 110 seconds to go.

A quick layup from Karl Dehesa would reduce the lead to three with 104 seconds remaining, but Johnson sealed the deal with a deuce eight seconds later.

Johnson finished with nine points, while Hammonds added seven. Rike would finish with four markers.

Travis Franklin led Balanga in scoring with six points in the final, with this leg being his debut in Chooks Pilipinas 3x3 after being the resident reinforcement for their World Tour stints.

Aside from the PhP 100,000 for winning the leg, Basilan now moves atop the leaderboard for the Patriot's Cup with 260 points, while Balanga moves up to third with 210. This is of course pending the number of points Pasig will receive for their eighth place finish at the Poitiers Challenger.

On the way to securing the title, Basilan managed to gain some revenge by defeating second leg champions VetHealth-Delhi, 22-20.

Rike clinched the win with a two with 23.7 seconds remaining, ending their semifinal with eight points. He shared to the media later, "Tough. Really tough for us. I think we didn't really know until yesterday that Roosevelt [Adams] wasn't really playing for sure. We had to come together, and we knew that we were missing some three-point shooting so I knew that going in."

Adams sat out the leg with a hamstring issue and was replaced by Gab Dagangon.

The semifinal stint keeps the 3x3BL squad in second place with 230 points.

Balanga secured their first final in the Patriot's Cup by defeating Max4-Birada Cebu, 21-18 in the other semifinal. The Cebuanos took advantage of Pasig's absence by nabbing the semifinal berth.

The Coca-Cola side events remained status quo, as both David Carlos and Kiran Shastri topped the slam dunk and shootout for the third straight leg. Carlos had a busy day as he also played for guest team Gold's Gym Muntinlupa that day. Muntinlupa filled in for Pasig with their 3x3 World Tour commitment.

The Patriots Cup now heads to SM Megamall for the fourth leg this coming July 13 at the Events Center.

The Scores:

Basilan 21 - Johnson 9, Hammonds 7, Rike 4.

Balanga 16 - Franklin 6, Dehesa 5, Pasaol 4, De Chavez 1.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Imus Bandera to work on defense after back-to-back setbacks

Imus Bandera in a huddle during their match-up against the Pasay Voyagers
The Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma/GLC fell to 1-2 in their MPBL season after an 82-65 loss to the Pasay Voyagers last Thursday at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila.

Pasay opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run, doubling their halftime lead to 49-31 and did not allow Imus to get their rhythm going in the second half, as they could only shoot 37 pecent from the field. The Voyagers also shot better from beyond the arc, making nine triples compared to the Bandera's four.

Buds Reyes shared after the match, "Yung shots nila, we planned for those shots, alam naman naming maganda ititra nila from three points, may game plan naman eh. But I guess sumabog; hindi maganda ang pagkaka-execute. Yung barrage of threes nila, hindi na kami nakabangon from that."

The match saw Mikee Reyes' return to the starting lineup after getting a minor ankle injury, netting a couple of points, as well as rebounds and assists in just under ten and a half minutes of action. He notes that they will work on their chemistry regarding to its defensive schemes in preparation for their future matches,"May schemes naman kami na pina-practice pero hindi pa plantsadong-plantsado. I think at the end of the day, it is about trusting each other na gagawin nila ang role nila each possession. Familiarity with each other na rin yan at the end of the day and committing to the schemes. Especially now, we had seven days to prepare pero hindi namin nagawa."

The UP alumnus adds, "Syempre, a lot of us, first time pa rin magkakakampi. Pero yun ang kagandahan, the process just continues. Medyo masama ang simula namin sa season." He concludes, "Last two games namin have been horrific, but if you will look at this line-up, there's no way that's how this line-up will play or that's how it's going to be for the rest of the season. I'm positive we will find each other and each will find their identity. If anything is positive, hindi talaga basta-basta ang players dito. We definitely could play better individually and as a team."

Mark Doligon led Imus with fourteen points, while James Martinez bucked a nagging left ankle sprain to add twelve points, as well as six rebounds and five assists.

Martinez shares, "Feeling ko relaxed yung start namin noong third quarter. Nag-relax, lumobo ng bente yung lamang, and feeling down na lahat from there. Bagsak na eh. Ako, ginawa ko, kinayod ko, pero talo pa rin. Wala pa ring kwenta. Feeling ko, kaya naman galingan sa depensa and the offense will come. At the end of the day, a loss is a loss pero 27 games pa."

They have a chance to address their skid as they face expansion side Bicol Volcanoes on July 8 at the Cuneta Astrodome. Imus is optimistic that they can be a better and more cohesive unit moving forward.

24-team field confirmed for 2nd OMNI Football Cup

Coming next week.
With the OMNI Cup slated to start exactly a week from today, the organizers have determined the 24 teams that will be participating in the tournament, with twelve teams each in Division 1 and Division 2.

For Division 1, these are the twelve teams: Fairview Amigos, All Stars Foot, PayMigas TDG FC, Matampay United, Panna FC, Trident FC, Batmen FC, Gators FC, Suicide Squad Team Kawaii, Stifler FC, Haphets FC, and Luntian United.

For Division 2, the remaining twelve teams are: Metro Aguilas United, Alcoholics United FC, Suicide Squad Team Morryzle, McCann United, Philippine Coast Guard FC, Galastars DNO A and B, Maningning United, Pendejo FC, Underground FC, Polaris FC, and Groundsbury FC.

Each division will have two groups of six teams, with teams from the same group playing a round-robin format. The top four of each group will then advance to the knockout rounds, until a champion is crowned for each division.

Matches last fifteen minutes long. The major difference between Division 1 and 2 is the number of female players needed on the field at all times. Division 1 teams are required just one female, while Division 2 requires three ladies.

For more details on the OMNI Cup, one can check their Facebook page.

Taking place at the McKinley-Hill Stadium in Taguig, the one-day football tournament is supported by event partners Head and Shoulders Philippines, MADs Essentials: Food for the Skin, Underground Football, and Suicide Squad FC. Manila Bulletin, Fox Sports Philippines, and Balita Sports serve as media partners.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Patriots Cup set for third leg in Muntinlupa

Travis Franklin set to make his Chooks 3x3 league debut

With Gold's Gym Pasig not participating in the third leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Patriot's Cup presented by Coca-Cola, the rest of the field is set to take advantage and make some headway towards the top of the leaderboard.

Pasig currently is atop with 170 points, but will not participate in Saturday's leg at the SM Muntinlupa Events Center due to their participation in the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Poitiers Challenger being held at the same weekend. The league, however, will award them 60-100 points depending on how they perform at this qualifier for the Lausanne Masters.

Second leg winners VetHealth-Delhi are set to make it back-to-back wins for the veteran ballers of the 3x3 Basketball League. A win would move them atop the standings since they are just ten points back of Pasig.

Both Wilkins-Balanga and Phenom-Basilan look to learn from their experience at last week's Haining Challenger to good use in the Patriot's Cup, with both teams making some replacements.

Travis Franklin is set to make his Chooks 3x3 debut for Balanga after being with the team for their World Tour runs, replacing Prince Orizu. Franklin recognizes the urgency of the situation they are in, suffering from back-to-back semifinal defeats in the previous two legs coupled with their struggles in the World Tour. He says, "We need to get the wins, man."

Balanga currently in fourth place with 130 points.

Basilan, on the other hand, is fielding Gab Dagangon in place of Roosevelt Adams for this leg, with the latter suffering a hamstring injury during the Challenger. Franky Johnson is definitely raring to go after missing out on the Challenger, leaving the Steel with just three guys during that run. They are looking to build on their performance in China with a maiden victory at the Patriot's Cup, after falling short in the final of the previous two legs, netting them a total of 160 points.

Aside from these four, the other eight teams are looking to break through into the semifinals as well.

Currently in sixth place with 85 points is Zamboanga Valientes MLV, who will opt to field a three-man squad for this leg. They will also bring back Shooster Olago in place of Ola Adeogun.

Max4-Birada Cebu is complete for this leg after competing in the last one with just three players at SM Fairview. Alfred Codilla of the MPBL's Cebu Sharks replaces Darrell Menina, while Elmer Echavez of the University of San Jose-Recoletos completes the quartet.

Replacing Pasig for this leg is guest side Gold's Gym Muntinlupa, with Biboy Enguio of the MPBL's Muntinlupa Cagers leading the quartet. Enguio has 3x3 experience representing Indonesia in last year's FIBA 3x3 World Cup.

Joining the former University of the East standout are noted Dunk Contest participant David Carlos, Lloyd Cabeguin of Olivarez College, and Congolese big man Tommy Lisika of Diliman College.

Lisika, who is just 19 years old, shares, "I am very excited. This is the first time we are playing together and we hope to get the support of the Muntinlupa fans."

Topping this leg rewards the champion PhP 100,000, while the tournament has a prize pool of PhP 2,000,000 as well as berths to the Jeddah Masters and the Xiong'An Challenger.

The twelve teams have been subdivided into four Pools as follows, with only the top team advancing into the semifinals:

Pool A: VetHealth-Delhi 3BL, Marikina Shoemasters, Vigan-MiGuard Wolves
Pool B: Wilkins-Balanga, Zamboanga MLV, Thunder-Pateros Hunters
Pool C: Tycoon Ballers QC, Mindoro Tamaraws, Max4-Birada Cebu
Pool D: Phenom-Basilan CTC Construction, Gold's Gym Muntinlupa, Inoza-Gulf Supreme Boosters

All games will be shown live on ESPN5's social media platforms, with ESPN5 telecast begins at 1pm.

OMNI throws hat into football with OMNI Football Cup

Seeking to foster the growth of football in the country, OMNI Electrical and Lighting has tabled another one-day football tournament for players to sink their teeth into.

Called the OMNI Football Cup: Fight to the Finish, it will take place on July 13 at the McKinley-Hill Stadium in Taguig, with over three hundred players from a variety of competitve levels set to get themselves involved.

The depth of field could include those with playing experience in varying levels of the Philippine football pyramid, whether in the collegiate leagues or in the semi-pro or professional ranks, including those who made national team participation in youth or senior level.

According to OMNI's overall event head Henry Yang, the OMNI Football Cup is an offshoot of his inspiration to help continue the growth of the sport here in the country.

He says, "My friend and event director Albert Alde reached out to OMNI, saying why don't we hold a one-day football competition. I joined some of their training camps and saw how diverse the football community is. There were professionals and beginners. Every week, more footballers come and join to play the beautiful game."

Henry also adds, "We at OMNI wanted to give a platform to experience what it is like to play in formal matches with all the hype that comes. We wanted to support team sports and football is one sport that is growing in the Philippines right now."

Event Director Kevin James Olayvar shares, "We are in the transition of developing football. I think growing awareness further starts with people seeing quality football matches, just like in basketball or boxing when they see good match-ups or famous personalities. I think that encourages or inspires children and adults to play the game themselves."

Olayvar adds, "Our first division is open to anyone. And all teams have slots for female players. We expect many top-level players to participate in the OMNI Cup. At the same time, the OMNI Cup also provides a venue for athletes for them to stay in shape for their competitions or clubs."

There will be two divisions, each with twelve teams slated to provide quality afternoon action and heading into the night. The previous iteration back in March saw Suicide Squad Goons claiming the Division 1 title, with Kickstart FC securing the Division 2 title.

OMNI Football Cup: Fight to the Finish has Head and Shoulders Philippines, MADs Essentials: Food for the Skin, Underground Football, and Suicide Squad FC as its event partners, with Manila Bulletin, Fox Sports Philippines, and Balita Sports acting as media partners.

For more details about the OMNI Cup, one can check out their Facebook page.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Pasig look to end recent 3x3 woes at Poitier Challenger

Pasig Chooks with Chooks Pilipinas 3x3 Commissioner Eric Altamirano
Pasig Chooks seeks to get themselves back on track, as they compete in the upcoming Poitiers Challenger of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour in France this weekend.

This particular Challenger is a feeder to the Lausanne Masters, which will take place on August 23-24.

Ranked 27th in the world, the quartet of Joshua Munzon (World number 96), Taylor Statham (World number 102), Nikola Pavlovic (World number 134), and Dylan Ababou (Philippines' number 6), have struggled in the last two Challengers they have participated, going winless in Kunshan and Moscow.

Such struggles have since moved into league play, having been stopped by Phenom-Basilan Steel, 20-18, in the semifinals of the second leg of the Patriots' Cup at SM Fairview, the first time the Kings did not make a final in the history of Chooks Pilipinas 3x3, going back to the President's Cup and even the preseason.

With time running out on the Philippines' aspirations to make it to Olympic Qualification for men's 3x3 basketball, league owner Ronald Mascariñas made clear his marching orders for Pasig, in the aftermath of both Basilan (as Isabela City Chooks) and Wilkins-Balanga (as Balanga Chooks) being unable to make it to the knockout rounds of the Haining Challenger last week, even if the former managed to emerge out of the qualifiers and into pool play with just three guys.

The BAVI head honcho says, "It's one thing to participate but we need to get the victories as it will multiply our points in the FIBA 3X3 ladder. They are more equipped now to take on the European squads with their experience in both our local league and the Challengers they played in."

Seeded fifth overall, Pasig is assigned in Pool D alongside Swiss side Lausanne, and one from these three French teams set to participate in qualifying: Lyon Blacklist, La Rochelle, and Poitiers.

They will face the qualifier at 1130pm on July 5, before facing Lausanne at 230am on July 6. Survive that and they will face either Kranj, Nantes Aderim, or Cairo in the quarterfinals later that evening. (All times in Manila)

Munzon is aware of the recent struggles, says "I wouldn't say that there's more pressure than the last one but I feel like we know that we are better than what we have been showing. We have to go out there and win games."

Statham adds, "We said over and over again that this is an uphill battle. We've used all these losses as lessons. The Poitiers Challenger is a good gauge of how far we've come. I don't want to give any predictions or say what we are going to do. I just want to let our game do the talking."

Joining the quartet in France is Chooks Pilipinas 3x3 Commissioner Eric Altamirano.

Participating in the Poitiers Challenger means Pasig will miss out on the third leg of the Chooks Pilipinas 3x3 Patriots' Cup presented by Coca-Cola, which also takes place this weekend at SM Muntinlupa.

The league, however, recognizes that and will award Pasig 60-100 points depending on the team's performance in the Challenger.

Kobe Demisana leads Pinoy quartet in Jr. NBA Global Championship

Looking to impress in the international stage
The Philippines can produce quality talent. And for the inaugural Asia-Pacfiic team in the Jr. NBA Global Championship, the island nation is front-and-center with its four Jr. NBA Philippines All-Stars making the cut at the Selection Camp recently in Jakarta.

One of the four who made it is 14-year old Henjz Gabriel Demisana. The Bacolod native and Alaska Ambassador impressed the coaches in Indonesia with his quickness, body strength, and soft touch to the basket. Kobe shares, "I feel very blessed. It’s a dream come true. I am really honored to represent the Philippines and our region to the Global Championship. I will bring all the lessons I learned from the Jr. NBA and Alaska in the global championships, especially the S.T.A.R. (sportsmanship, teamwork, a positive attitude, respect) values."

Demisana's basketball journey began when he first started playing the game six years ago at the tender age of eight. He credits his father for instilling the love of the sport, vowing to always give his all inside the court, knowing his family will always support him.

Kobe managed to participate in the Jr. NBA Philippines program last year, starting out at the Visayas Regional Selection Camp in Bacolod and making it to the National Training Camp. He actually made the Top 20 but just missed out on being a Jr. NBA All-Star.

The 6'5" big man from Tay Tung High School reflects on that experience, says "After my Jr. NBA NTC stint last year, I was really down. But it did not stop me from continuing to work for my dreams. Aside from studying, I dedicated my time developing the skills that I need to improve my game."

Not making that team proved to be a blessing in disguise, with the announcement that the 2019 edition being the first one for which Filipino players can participate in the Jr. NBA Global Championship this coming August 6-11 in Orlando.

Kobe went through the 2019 Jr. NBA Philippines program presented by Alaska, replicating his exact feat from the Regional Selection Camp to make the National Training Camp. This time around, his perseverance and hard work paid off, as he made it not only as a Jr. NBA All-Star, but also as an Alaska Ambassador.

Demisana shares, "I prepared myself physically and mentally. Last year, I was really scared to commit mistakes. But with what I learned from my previous Jr. NBA experience, I became more confident whenever I step inside the court. I do all the right things. I sleep early, eat the right kind and amount of food, do proper hydration, and always make sure I’m thinking positive. Nutrition and good health habits are just as important in basketball as training hard and polishing your skills."

Aside from Demisana, Matthew Rubico, Sebastian Reyes, and Camille Nolasco made the cut to comprise the Pinoy contingent in the Jr. NBA Asia-Pacific team, which also has representation from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand.