CALAMBA – As expected, Family’s Brand Sardines Zamboanga City Chooks ruled Chooks 3×3 President’s Cup Leg 1 but not without grinding it out in the knockout stages.
For Alvin Pasaol, Zamboanga needs to elevate their game if it wants to stamp its class in the second season of the now-pro league.
“Nag-struggle kami sa offense namin. Sa defense, nagkakagulo kami,” said Pasaol, the country’s second-best 3×3 player.
“Pero, all throughout, napi-fix naman ang mga problema sa defense at sa offense. Good result at nag-champion kami pero hindi enough iyon para mag-champion kami ng isang leg. Kung kailangang i-dominate lahat, kailangan naming i-dominate,” he added.
Zamboanga City was pushed to the limit before upending Butuan-Uling Roasters, 21-17, and rule the opening leg via a five-game sweep Wednesday night inside the INSPIRE Sports Academy quarantine bubble at the National University-Laguna campus here.
Butuan led, 17-14, but was held scoreless as Joshua Munzon, the Philippines’ No. 1 player, took over to deliver the finishing kick for Zamboanga City.
“We found a way to win those games. I think it shows how experienced we are. We just stuck to our script. We took advantage of our advantages and I think it helped us along the way,” said Munzon, who scored 12 points in the clincher.
“Again, it showed we can fight through adversity,” he added. Zamboanga City was able to dodge the upset axe in the semifinals, nipping a shorthanded Nueva Ecija side, 21-17.
The Rice Vanguards played without Juan Gomez de Liaño in the Final Four due to a sprained ankle in their 21-19 quarterfinals win against Bacolod Master Sardines.
“Hindi kami puwedeng patulog-tulog kasi lahat ng teams competitive. Kailangang magpursige,” said Pasaol, who added six points in the championship game.
Butuan bested Zamboanga Peninsula, 21-16, in the other semifinals duel.
Munzon is definitely looking forward for tough challenges as Zamboanga City hopes to make it two in a row in the second leg starting at 1 p.m. today.
“I want them to be able to come out and play their best game against us because at the end of the day, I think it will make us better,” said Munzon.
“I think we are getting every team’s best shot. I think it showed today how close our games was,” he added.
Nueva Ecija, one of Zamboanga’s biggest threats, suffered a huge blow as Gomez de Liaño has not yet fully recovered and will miss the second leg.
Meanwhile, Butuan’s Chris De Chavez knocked down nine of the 10 balls to the become the TM Two-Point Shootout king, while newcomer Jesus Manay stunned decorated local dunker David Carlos to cop the TM Slam Dunk Contest crown.