By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Manila Chooks 3×3 basketball squad boosted its bid for a qualifying spot for the upcoming Paris Olympics next year after clinching the world no. 19 ranking confirmed last March 27, 2023.
It was Chooks-to-Go President and team owner Ronald Mascariñas who announced the development after the team’s stellar campaign during the recently concluded FIBA 3×3 Pro League Netherlands Winter Edition in Amsterdam.
After the tournament, Manila Chooks amassed a total of 1,046,227 points, to improve one place higher than their previous ranking.
The team composed of Mac Tallo, Dennis Santos, CJ Payawal, Matt Salem, and Brandon Ramirez defied the odds after reaching the quarterfinal stage of the FIBA 3×3 competition.
Led by the coaching prowess of former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) guard Chico Lanete, Manila Chooks exceeded the expectations of Mascariñas and company after the team sustained their fine play despite the injury of Ramirez.
Ramirez, Manila Chooks’ physical and bruising big man, has become their heart and soul after several campaigns heading into the Netherlands campaign.
“This all-Filipino line-up exceeded all expectations, and they rallied behind Brandon Ramirez when he got injured which showed how much this team has developed as a unit,” Mascariñas said.
Stepping up in his absence was Payawal who backstopped Tallo in the scoring department and is nearing a top 10 ranking in the PHL 3×3 scene.
Payawal’s great performance in the Netherlands helped him register 20,930 points and is looking to be a permanent member of the squad if he continues to perform consistently.
“The more this team improves and learns to trust the process laid out by coach Chico, the more they will be a force to reckon with in the coming pro circuit,” added Mascariñas.