CALAMBA – Zamboanga City-Family’s Brand Sardines remains as heavy favorites as the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup powered by TM reaches its climax with today’s Grand Finals at the INSPIRE Sports Academy inside the National University-Laguna campus here.
Powered by national 3×3 pool standouts, Zamboanga City has lived up to its lofty billing, winning all but one leg championships in the second season held inside the bubble.
Uling Roasters Butuan City, which ruled the third leg, will be Zamboanga City’s biggest threat in the season finale, which has a P1-million top prize.
A marked team all throughout the season, Zamboanga City knows that there is no room for error in the Grand Finals of the tournament sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board.
“Our expectation for us is to win. You know, we are going for the championship. We all have the talent, the tools and all the experience to do it. It’s not going to be easy,” said Zamboanga City big man Troy Rike.
“These other teams are really talented. They are going for it too. But for us, I think we are definitely going for the championship. I think we can control what we can control. We will give ourselves a good shot,” he added.
Aside from Zamboanga City and Butuan City, also jumping straight to the quarterfinals due to their good performances in the first four legs of the now-pro league are the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards and the Pasig Sta. Lucia Realtors.
The eight other teams will slug it out for the four remaining quarters berths in the knockout stage starting at 11:20 a.m.
No. 8 Big Boss Cement-Porac will take on No. 9 Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes MLV, with the winner facing on Zamboanga City while fifth-ranked Palayan City Capitals will play 12th-ranked Pagadian Rocky Sports, with Pasig waiting in the wings.
No. 6 Sarangani Marlins and No. 11 Petra Cement Roxas ZN duke it out for the right to face Nueva Ecija, while seventh-ranked Bacolod Master Sardines and 10th-ranked Bicol Paxful 3×3 Pro collide, with the survivor having Butuan City.
The quarterfinal matches will start at 12:40 p.m., while the semifinals is scheduled at 2 p.m.
The championship game is set at 2:50 p.m.
While Zamboanga City and Pasig are expected to carry on with an intact roster, Butuan City and Nueva Ecija will bring back their old reliables in the league’s biggest leg.
After sitting out in last Tuesday’s narrow 20-21 penultimate leg loss to Zamboanga City, Franky Johnson will be back to lead Butuan City for the Grand Finals.
Juan Gomez de Liaño, who after suffering a right ankle sprain in last week’s opener has missed the next three legs, will suit up anew for the Rice Vanguards.
Still, the gold standard is Zamboanga City, which is hard to beat if the top guns Joshua Munzon and Alvin Pasaol play their A-game together with Rike and Santi Santillan.