BY REYNALD MAGALLON
Philippine bets – Cebu and Manila Chooks – advanced to the knockout rounds with a pair of pulsating victories over their respective Mongolian foes to close out the group stage of the Chooks-To-Go FIBA 3×3 World Tour Manila Masters on Saturday, May 28 at the Ayala Mall Manila Bay.
Mike Harry Nzeusseu and Mac Tallo gave the much-needed lift as Cebu Chooks advanced to the knockout stage with a nail-biting 21-19 victory over Zhavkan MMC Energy while Chico Lanete sank two pressure packed free throws to send hometown bets Manila Chooks to the quarterfinals with a come-from-behind 21-19 victory over Zaisan MMC Energy.
Nzeusseu unloaded nine points, none bigger than his last three that allowed Cebu to crawl back to the game and take a 19-18 cushion.
Avirmed Lhavaa knotted the count at 19-all but Tallo drilled the booming left wing deuce in the next possession to clinch the game with 14 seconds left in the clock.
Manila meanwhile rode the late explosion from veteran Chico Lanete who nailed a huge deuce and a jumper to tie the game at 19-all. After trailing for the majority of the match, Lanete was fouled during a play for the loose ball which sent him to the foul line.
Lanete then showed veteran poise and coolly sank the two free throws as the crowd in the Ayala Mall erupted as Manila clinched a spot in the playoffs.
Cebu will next face Liman from Serbia while Manila takes on another Mongolian team, Sansar in the quarterfinals. A win by the two Filipino teams would pit them against each other in the semis.
In the other bracket, UB Huishan tangles against Warsaw while Ulaanbaatar locks horns with Melbourne.