Fancied teams Family's Brand Sardines-Zamboanga City Chooks and Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards both fell in the Leg 3 quarterfinals of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas President's Cup powered by TM on Sunday, October 25 at the Inspire Sports Academy here in Calamba.
Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors came back from 10 points down in the last 3 minutes to shock the top-ranked squad Zamboanga City, 21-18 (8:09).
Family's Brand Sardines, champion of the preseason and the first two legs, was well on its way to yet another win as Santi Santillan's inside basket put it up, 18-11, with 2:45 on the clock.
Pasig's defense firmed up from there, however, and frustrated the defending champions – who are bannered by Philippine No. 1 3x3 player Joshua Munzon and No. 2 Alvin Pasaol – into misses and miscues.
At the other end, Jeckster Apinan and Felix Apreku did the heavy lifting as their side scored 10 unanswered points in a one-minute span to wrap up the biggest upset yet in the country’s pioneering 3x3 league.
"Depensa lang talaga and heart manalo (It’s all about defense and the heart to win)," said Apreku of their come-from-behind win that ensures there will be a first-time champion inside the 'CalamBubble.'
The Realtors now move on to a second straight semifinals where they will face another team that slew a giant.
There are no sister teams here as Palayan City eliminated Nueva Ecija with a convincing 21-14 (7:44) victory in the quarterfinals.
Bobby Balucanag and Clark Derige imposed their will on Mac Sabellina and Gab Banal and combined for 13 points to carry their side to a breakthrough semis appearance.
"Mas intense yung laban namin kasi sister teams kami," said Balucanag of the matchup between the Capitals and the Rice Vanguards, both under the same mother franchise.
"Nilaro lang namin yung advantage namin sa loob kaya siguro kami nanalo."
(We’re sister teams so the battle was more intense. We made the most out of our advantage inside that’s why we won.)
That was the crystal clear difference between the two teams as Nueva Ecija just did not have an answer for Balucanag, Derige, and JP Sarao's inside baskets as well as Renz Palma's drives to the ring.
The Leg 3 Final Four of the FIBA 3x3-endorsed tournament will keep streaming on Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Facebook and FIBA 3x3 YouTube and airing on BEAM TV channel 31.
The other bracket features a duel between preseason runner-up Bacolod-Master Sardines and first leg second-placer Butuan-City Uling Roasters.
Bacolod first dashed the hopes of surging Sarangani with a well-earned 21-20 (8:59) win.
Choi Ignacio scored the last two makes for Master Sardines as they weathered a late storm brought on by Pamboy Raymundo.
On the other hand, Franky Johnson put on a show and pushed Butuan City past Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes, 21-14 (7:53).
Johnson razzled and dazzled his way en route to 11 points to lead Uling Roasters to their third semis in a row.
In the TM Two-Point Shootout, Janus Lozada of Petra Cement-Roxas ZN did what no one has done before, knocking down all 10 balls to win the side-event. – Rappler.com