Family’s Brand Sardines-Zamboanga City Chooks sits on the throne once more as it ruled Leg 4 of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President’s Cup powered by TM.
Santi Santillan’s hustle keyed Zamboanga City’s return to the mountaintop, with his offensive rebound and ensuing free throw proving to be the difference against Butuan City, 21-20 (7:27), Tuesday, October 27 at the Inspire Sports Academy here.
Joshua Munzon caught fire early and his longball sent his side ahead, 20-16, inside the last 3 and a half minutes.
That was the last of his 11 points, though, while Chris de Chavez refused to lose and his back-to-back bombs tied the tally at 20-all.
Family’s Brand Sardines still put the ball in Munzon’s hands in the next play, but he missed his deuce.
Fortunately for them, Santillan was at the right place, at the right time and got the rebound before getting fouled.
The Philippines’ No. 6 3x3 player coolly converted his charity and shot Zamboanga City to their third championship out of 4 legs.
“Nung unang game pa lang, bad start na kami so yung next games, kinailangan naming mag-adjust,” said Santillan. “Mula nun, binigay namin yung 100%.”
(In our first game, we had a bad start so we had to adjust in our next games. Since then, we were giving our 100%.)
Santillan finished with 6 points while Munzon fired 9 markers for another P100,000 in winnings.
More than that, though, Family’s Brand Sardines felt fulfilled with its bounce back following a shock loss in the quarterfinals of the last leg.
“When we lost that game, I felt like the world was crashing down,” said Troy Rike who chimed in one point in the win that assured them of the top seed in the Grand Finals.
“But I just reminded myself that if we take care of business, we’re right where we need to be even after a bump on the road.”
The two teams faced tough tests before meeting anew in the championship round.
Zamboanga City took out history-making Sarangani, 21-13 (8:25), in the semis after taking care of Zamboanga Peninsula in the quarters, 21-16 (7:30).
On the other hand, Butuan City came back from the dead to snatch away a quarters win at the expense of Nueva Ecija, 21-20 (8:08), and then came out on top of upset-conscious Palayan City, 21-10 (8:57), in the semis.
Uling Roasters fell short of defending the championship, but they still receive P100,000 since Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas pledged the amount to the finals opponent of top-ranked Zamboanga City.
De Chavez topped the scoring column with 12 points while Karl Dehesa and JR Alabanza each added 4 markers.
Even before the Leg 4 championship round, though, the top 4 of the Grand Finals had already been set in stone.
Heading into the penultimate leg, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, Nueva Ecija, and Pasig were way ahead in terms of points.
That didn't change at the end of Leg 4 and those 4 teams will no longer have to go through the qualifying round of the Grand Finals in the FIBA 3x3-endorsed tournament scheduled for Friday still inside the 'CalamBubble.'
In the ultimate winner-take-all tournament with P1 million on the line, the bottom 8 teams in the rankings will first figure in knockout bouts with only 4 advancing into the next round.
Already waiting for them there will be top seeds Uling Roasters, Family's Brand Sardines, Rice Vanguards, and Sta. Lucia Realtors.
Meanwhile, Petra Cement-Roxas ZN retained the TM Two-Point Shootout title with Roider Cabrera drilling all of his 10 shots in the tiebreaker round versus Dehesa.
Teammate Janus Lozada was the first-ever to achieve the feat two days ago.
In the TM Slam Dunk Contest, ‘Air’ David Carlos reigned supreme for the third time.
Zamboanga City 21 – Munzon 11, Santillan 6, Pasaol 3, Rike 1.
Butuan City 20 – De Chavez 12, Dehesa 4, Alabanza 4, Lanete 0.