The Manila Chooks TM have a tough task in front of them as they take on a couple of highly ranked teams in the 2021 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Abu Dhabi Masters on Friday.
Manila Chooks have been placed in Pool D, where they will take on world no. 4 Liman of Serbia and no. 5 Amsterdam Talent&Pro of the Netherlands. The Philippine-side will hit the court against Liman on Friday at 10:20 PM (Manila time) before facing Amsterdam at 2:45 AM (October 30 in Manila).
Leading the team are Cebuanos Mac Tallo and Zach Huang as well as Chico Lañete and 6-foot-6 Cameroonian Mike Nzeusseu.
"Nakikita ko si Mike nung naglalaro siyas a Lyceum and sabi ko nga I’m thankful na hindi ko siya inabot doon noong nasa NC pa kami," said Manila Chooks head trainer Aldin Ayo about Nzeusseu, who is making his FIBA 3x3 debut. "Nandoon sa kanya yung materials na pwede mo talaga gamitin sa 3x3. He’s big, he’s agile, he’s an athlete, he’s skilled."
The team arrived on Wednesday morning and will be quarantined until their RT-PCR test results come out at the Radisson Blu Hotel and Resort.
Manila Chooks is also waiting on whether Nzeusseu can play in the maximum level tournament as he suffered a left hand injury during the semifinals of the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Invitational powered by TM last October 20.
Not having Nzeusseu will be a tough blow for Manila Chooks as Liman will still be headlined by world no. 4 Mihailo Vasic, who stands at 6-foot-6. The rest of Liman are 6-foot-4 Aleksandar Ratkov (world no. 11), 6-foot-6 Stefan Kojic (no. 13), and 6-foot Nebojsa Kilijan (no. 23).
Ayo will also be calling the shots in Abu Dhabi.
"First time nating lumabas ngayong pandemic eh so well excited kasi yung competition nandoon eh and it’s different if you’re not with them and it’s really difficult to motivate them pag nasa Zoom ka lang eh," said Ayo. "It will be a good opportunity tapos magaguide mo sila personally so good thing na makakasama."
World no. 10 Arvin Slagter will lead Amsterdam and will be joined by Dimeo van der Horst (no. 12), Julian Jaring (no. 14), and Maksim Kovacevic (no. 15).
Other teams in this tournament that has $40,000 going to the champion are Serbia's Ub, Puerto Rico's San Juan, and Russia's Gagarin (Pool A); Latvia's Riga, Saudi Arabia's Jeddah, and Mongolia's Ulaanbaatar (Pool B); and Belgium's Antwerp, USA's Princeton, and the winner of the qualifying draw between Netherland's Utrecht, Japan's Minakami, and host Abu Dhabi (Pool C).
Also competing in the dunk contest is Filipino David Carlos, who returns to the world stage after two years. (JNP)