Cebu City—Before a hometown crowd, Mark Jayven “Mac” Tallo relishes his chance to play for Team Cebu, and earn a shot to join the Paris Olympic qualifiers when he sees action in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas FIBA 3×3 World Tour Cebu Masters on Saturday at the SM Seaside City in Cebu.
The world no. 82 Tallo and his teammates could push the Philippines into the Olympic Qualifiers for the coming Olympiad if they earn enough points to make it.
“Sobrang excited na ako. This is my first time to play in Cebu City for this tournament,” said the 28-year-old Tallo during a presentation with scribes at the Radison Blu Hotel in Cebu City.
Cebu-Chooks, which has risen to no. 26 in the team rankings, will have Tallo backed up by Zach Huang, Mike Harry Nzeusseu, Brandon Ramirez, and playing coach Chico Lanete.
The Philippines, being the no. 22nd country in the FIBA 3×3 world ranking, is in the main draw, and will have to hurdle third-ranked Antwerp of Belgium in their first game at 3 p.m. in Pool A before clashing with world no. 18 Omaha 3Ball USA in their second match at 7 p.m.
Chief organizer Ronald Mascariñas, President and General Manager of Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. (BAVI) said the country made it to the Olympic qualifiers back in 2019 for the Tokyo Games.
And they will have a chance to send a team to the qualifiers again.
“This is one step to earn valuable points and improve our chance to join the qualifiers. Lahat ng ginawa natin in the past has been geared towards the qualification,” said Mascarinas.
Early this month, Cebu missed a chance to reach the semifinals of the 2022 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 International Quest at the Ayala Malls Solenad in Sta. Rosa, Laguna,
Cebu, unable to protect the lead it built early on, fell to Zaisan MMC Energy through a 21-17 (9:50.9) in the final game of the preliminary round.
This time, the Philippines and Mongolia will again renew their rivalry, as the Filipinos will once again have two teams, with Manila Chooks joining the qualifiers.
Mongolia, which is no. 4 in the world and the highest ranked Asian country, will be fielding two teams.
Sansar is seeded in the main draw, and Ulaanbaatar will be in the qualifying draw.
The Mongolians ousted the Philippines last April 30 in the group stage of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Asia Pacific Super Quest held in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Back then, Zaisan fell to Manila Chooks in the group stage, and Sansar prevailed over Butuan Chooks but dropped a close one to Cebu Chooks.
Sansar and Cebu Chooks met again in the finals with the home team prevailing, 17-15.