DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Cebu Chooks capped its debut run with a sixth-place finish in the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Dubai Expo Super Quest on Wednesday night, March 31.
The quartet of Mac Tallo, Zach Huang, Brandon Ramirez, and Mike Nzeusseu went 1-2 in a tough Pool B of the level eight FIBA 3×3 tournament held at the Expo Sports Arena.
Figuring in a do-or-die game against world No. 2 Antwerp of Belgium, Cebu Chooks could not sustain the momentum it got from its win against USA’s Chicago earlier, bowing to the Belgians, 19-12.
Cebu Chooks’ sole win in the competition came against USA’s Chicago – a team bannered by USA’s No. 3 player Craig Moore and No. 4 Zahir Carrington, taking a 21-15 (8:14) triumph.
Trailing 10-5 midway through the game, the trio of Tallo, Zach Huang, and Brandon Ramirez joined hands in an 8-3 run to tie things up at 13-all with 4:02 remaining.
The two teams then went back and forth before Nzeusseu scored on the inside to give Cebu Chooks a 16-15 lead with three minutes left.
With the momentum on their side, Huang and Tallo continued the scoring spree while a Ramirez putback sent the Filipinos to matchpoint with 2:02 remaining. Nzeusseu then scored the winner after a blow-by of Zahir Carrington with 1:46 to spare.
Tallo led the way for Cebu Chooks with 10 points built on three deuces in the contest.
In its very first game, Cebu Chooks almost stunned 2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medalists Riga of Latvia, falling short late in a 21-17 (9:07.5) loss.
With 1:17 left and Riga clinging to a 17-16 lead, world No. 1 Nauris Miezis knocked down a two-ball to put Riga just two points away from taking the game.
Though Tallo was able to score on a nifty move inside, the 31-year-old Miezis knocked down a one-legged deuce to seal the win for Riga with 52.5 seconds to spare.
Miezis had 18 points in the contest built on five deuces.
“We still have a lot to work on,” said Cebu Chooks head trainer Aldin Ayo. “We had a lot of lapses in our interior defense, especially during our game against Belgium (Antwerp). Hopefully, we can fix this by the time we host the Manila Super Quest next month.”
Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas, meanwhile, was proud of the stand put up by the Philippine team as it finished a respectable sixth place in the competition.
“Our team gave a good accord of themselves, especially against Riga, a team that has been together for almost a decade,” said the sports patron. “We plan on adding more wide-bodied versatile players not just to this team but also our second team to match the physicality of the Europeans.”
Antwerp ended up topping the tournament while Poland’s Warsaw finished second. Riga and Serbia’s Liman finished in third and fourth place, respectively. Puerto Rico’s San Juan, who wound up with a 2-1 record in Pool A, placed fifth.
Switzerland’s Lausanne (A, 0-3) and Chicago (B, 0-3) finished in seventh and eighth, respectively.
Riga 21 – Miezis 18, Strēlnieks 2, Čavars 1.
Cebu Chooks 17 – Ramirez 6, Nzeusseu 6, Tallo 3, Huang 2.
Cebu Chooks 21 – Tallo 10, Nzeusseu 5, Ramirez 3, Huang 3.
Chicago 15 – Carrington 5, Moore 4, Wilkerson 4, Hamilton 2.
Antwerp 19 – Vervoort 7, Augustijnen 6, Bogaerts 4, Celis 2.
Cebu Chooks 12 – Nzeusseu 3, Tallo 3, Ramirez 3, Huang 3.