No.1 seed Ub Huishan NE (SRB) will aim to silence the home fans on Day 1 of the 2022 Chooks-to-Go Manila Masters as they start their quest for back-to-back titles to open the FIBA 3×3 World Tour 2022.
For claiming the Utsunomiya Opener, Ub has been installed as the team to beat in the event to be played at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay on May 28-29.
Also bracketed with the Serbs in Pool A are Zavkhan MMC Energy (MGL) and Cebu Chooks (PHI).
Out to lead Cebu Chooks are Mark Tallo and Mike Harry, who were dynamic in the team’s triumph at the Super Quest event in Manila.
“It’s going to be a tough group for Cebu but it’s also going to be a learning experience,” said Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas. “But both Cebu and Manila Chooks have been training with Ub and Liman here for the past week. Hopefully, the lessons they learn from the Serbians will be of great help come the Manila Masters.”
Headlining Pool B are No.2 seed Antwerp (BEL) and No.7 seed Sansar MMC Energy (MGL)
The Belgians are desperate to break a title drought on the World Tour and win their first Masters having once again fallen at the semis in Utsunomiya although they played the tournament without a sub.
Sansar will hope to rediscover their best having gone off the boil since finishing runner-up at Asia Pacific Super Quest 2022.
The third team in the group will come from a qualifying draw, featuring Yokohama (JPN), Auckland (NZL), and Melbourne (AUS).
Pool C should be crowned the ‘Group of Death’ and features potentially the best game on Day 1 between powerhouse and No.3 seed Liman Huishan NE (SRB) and emerging Warsaw Lotto (POL).
Liman was heartbroken after falling to Ub in an OT classic in Utsunomiya and face a tough early test against Warsaw, who is determined to make a splash in 2022 after turning professional.
The extra dedication has helped the Poles steal the show early in this pro circuit, especially dynamo Przemyslaw Zamojski who will be aiming to outduel fellow sniper Stefan Kojic.
Be careful, though, it might not just be a two-horse race with Gurugram 3BL (IND) boasting the ‘Bearded King’ Bikramjit Gill, ball wizard Inderbir Gill and former number one Slovenian Blaz Cresnar aka ‘Birdman’, who’s making his big 3×3 comeback.
Last but not least, Pool D appears tough to pick with Mongolian teams Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy and Zaisan MMC Energy squaring off.
Rounding out a tough group is Manila Chooks, who split their two games against Zaisan this season
The Filipinos have been in solid form early season with semi-final finishes at Super Quest events in Manila and Ulaanbaatar. Their chances of getting into Day 2 rests with duo Henry Iloka, who has been a beast inside, and wily veteran Chico Lanete.