CEBU CITY— The Manila Chooks! 3×3 squad’s biggest goal is to bag a slot to the Paris Olympics next year.
Seeing action in the 2023 Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3×3 World Tour Cebu Masters will certainly serve as a big inspiration for the charges of head trainer Chico Lanete.
Olympians Dejan Majstorovic and Dutch Dimeo van der Horst will suit up for Ub Huishan of Serbia and China’s Futian, respectively.
“It’s a motivation for us since there will be Olympians who will play here in the Cebu Masters,” Lanete said. “We’re also blessed because there are teams that want to play with us.
“Like Miami, they were the ones who asked for a tune-up game. It’s a big help for us,” he added.
Manila Chooks! launches its bid against Vienna of Austria in Pool C at 4:20 p.m. Saturday before an expected big crowd at the SM Seaside City Cebu here.
The Filipino 3×3 cagers wind up their group play stint against China’s Futian at 8:20 in the evening.
With local stars Paul Desiderio and Dennis Santos out due to injuries, Manila Chooks! will be led by Philippine No. 1 Mac Tallo, a Cebuano, Marcus Hammonds, Marquez Letcher-Ellis, and another hometown standout in Tosh Sesay.
Manila Chooks! clashed with Miami in four scrimmages before the two-day blue-ribbon tilt and the highest level of FIBA 3×3 play.
Ub Huishan, Sansar MMC Energy of Mongolia and Chinese side Wuxi.
The Dutch’s Amsterdam, San Juan of Puerto Rico, and French team Paris compose Group B.
Joining Futian in Group C are Vienna and Manila Chooks! while the United States’ Miami, Mongolia’s Ulaanbaatar, and the winner in the qualifying draw pitting Taichung of Taiwan and New Zealand’s Auckland make up Group D.
Former NBA player Jimmer Fredette will be a marked man for Miami in the tough 14-team field.
“The Philippines has been very, very busy with basketball this summer, and we hope to be able to put on a show,” Fredette said.
“I know this is a basketball-crazy country. Even the guy who picked us up was telling me all about how the people here just love basketball, they love the NBA, they love 3×3.”
Fredette will be backstopped by Kareem Maddox, Dylan Travis, and Canyon Barry, son of Hall of Famer and former NBA champion Rick.
The champion will take home $40,000, with the runner-up settling for $30,000.
Fans can watch the games live on Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas’ Facebook page and the YouTube channel of FIBA 3×3.