It's mission accomplished for Family's Brand Sardines-Zamboanga City Chooks in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup powered by TM.
Josh Munzon took charge and Zamboanga City took the fight out of the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, 22-19 (8:49), in a down-to-the-wire last game of the Grand Finals to capture the P1 million prize on Friday, October 30 at the Inspire Sports Academy here in Calamba.
Three-man Nueva Ecija was giving the nationals all they could handle and were only down by one, 19-20, with a minute and a half remaining in the 'Million Peso Game.'
That was the end of the road for them, though, as Munzon's longball over Jai Reyes crowned Zamboanga City as the best of the best in the Philippines' pioneering professional 3x3 league.
"From the start, we had a game plan and we stuck to it," said Munzon. “Whether we won or lost, we just continued to do the same things over and over and over. Our will was tested, but the results speak for itself."
The top player in the country and Alvin Pasaol each scored 7 points while Santi Santillan and Troy Rike teamed up for 8 markers.
The crown capped Zamboanga City’s impressive run as the team topped 4 out of the 5 legs as well as the preseason inside the 'CalamBubble.'
In all, Zamboanga took home P1.35 million as well as much valuable experience heading into the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Without a doubt, the nationals were challenged up until the end.
Even sans a substitute as Mac Sabellina continued nursing a fractured rib, the Rice Vanguards were going toe-to-toe with Munzon and his crew.
They even had a chance to steal the championship, but Gab Banal's long-range try fell short.
Zamboanga City hauled in the rebound and not long after, Munzon hit the deciding shot.
"Those are the shots I've been taking the tournament," he said. "It felt good coming out of my hands. I was confident about that shot."
Moments later, the Filipino-American waved goodbye not just to all their fallen opponents, but also the 'CalamBubble' that has housed Chooks 3x3 for more than two weeks.
The runner-up finish rewarded Nueva Ecija with P300,000.
More than that, though, the league newcomer won hearts after fighting through the loss of Juan Gomez de Liaño from Leg 2 and then Sabellina since the semis.
Reyes topped the scoring column for them with 8 points while Banal and Tonino Gonzaga both chimed in 6 markers.
Rounding out the podium is another upstart in Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors, who received P100,000.
Meanwhile, 'Air' David Carlos still reached great heights in his last flight, ruling his fourth Slam Dunk Competition out of 5.
In the Two-Point Shootout, Petra Cement-Roxas reigned supreme for the fourth time out of 5 thanks to Janus Lozada.
Up next for Zamboanga City, which will be rechristened to Manila Chooks, will be the FIBA 3x3 Doha Masters from November 20-21.
Zamboanga City 22 – Munzon 7, Pasaol 7, Santillan 4, Rike 4.
Nueva Ecija 19 – Reyes 8, Banal 6, Gonzaga 6.