Zamboanga City captures 2nd Chooks 3x3 leg title

So far,  Zamboanga City-Family's Brand Sardines has aced all the tests it faced in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup.

Things were no different in Leg 2 as Alvin Pasaol and Santi Santillan carried the load in Zamboanga City's gritty 21-11 (7:47) triumph over the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards in the final round on Friday, October 23 at the Inspire Sports Academy here in Calamba. 

Pasaol scored 8 points, the biggest basket being a deuce over the outstretched arms of Tonino Gonzaga, as Zamboanga continued setting the standard in the pioneering professional 3x3 league.

The Philippines' No. 2 3x3 player could not have asked for a better ending as he and Gonzaga were at opposite sides of another heated incident.

Santillan dropped 5 of his 7 points in a four-minute span as Family's Brand Sardines went on a 12-5 tear to open up a two-point edge to an 18-9 lead.

In the ensuing defensive rebound, Santillan was fouled by Gab Banal and the two fell on the floor and could not be separated.

Pasaol approached them and pushed off Banal before he was warded off himself by Gonzaga.

Play was stopped for a while as game officials put the newly instituted video review system to good use.

Ultimately, Banal got a personal foul while Pasaol and Gonzaga were called for unsportsmanlike and technical fouls that cancelled out.

Once play resumed, Zamboanga City didn't let their foot off the pedal as even though Banal pulled Nueva Ecija to within 8 points, 11-19, Pasaol closed the door on them for good with the dagger in the face of Gonzaga's defense.

"Hindi ito larong bata. Para sa mga hindi nakakaintindi ng 3x3, wag niyo na lang kami panoorin," said Pasaol with a sly smile. 

"Tuloy-tuloy lang naman yung laro kahit anong mangyari. Kailangan naming manalo rito kasi ito na yung preparation para sa Tokyo Olympics."

(This is not child’s play. If you can’t understand 3x3, just don’t watch us. We continue to play whatever happens. We need to win here because this is our preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.)

Philippine No. 1 Joshua Munzon contributed 4 points while No. 5 Troy Rike also added 2 of his own as Zamboanga City continued to rule after topping the preseason and Leg 1.

This latest championship also nets them P100,000 more, hiking their winnings so far to a total of P250,000.

Even with the runner-up finish, the Rice Vanguards are P100,000 richer as well since Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas pledged the amount to the finals opponent of the top-ranked Zamboanga City crew. 

Banal topped the scoring column for Nueva Ecija with 7 points while Jai Reyes cooled off quite a bit with only 3 markers.

Earlier, Zamboanga City needed a 12-2 run just to get through a fired up Butuan City-Uling Roasters, 21-18, in the semifinals and before that, Family's Brand Sardines had to top sister squad Bacolod-Master Sardines, 21-16, in the quarterfinals.

For their part, Nueva Ecija needed Reyes' game-winner to dispatch red-hot Bicol, 21-19, in the quarters and then the Rice Vanguards had to take down history-making Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors, 22-13, in the semis.

Nueva Ecija fell short in the finals, but this remains a promising development as they came out fighting despite losing playmaker Juan Gomez de Liaño to a right ankle injury in the second leg.

In the TM side events, 'Air' David Carlos reigned supreme in the Slam Dunk Contest while Roider Cabrera of Petra Cement Roxas Rockies ruled the Two-Point Shootout.

Leg 3 of the FIBA 3x3-endorsed tournament kicks off on Sunday still inside the ‘CalamBubble.’ 

The Scores:

Zamboanga City 21 – Pasaol 8, Santillan 7, Munzon 4, Rike 2.

Nueva Ecija 11 – Banal 7, Reyes 3, Gonzaga 1, Sabellina 0.