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Chooks Pilipinas fires off FIBA Asia Champions Cup bid vs Kazakhs

Members of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas team bound for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup pose during a send-off party Tuesday. | Rey A. Dalupang

MANILA, Philippines – Chooks To Go Pilipinas takes on BC Astana of Kazakhstan Friday night to start its campaign in the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Chenzhou, China, not expecting much especially as the team was still working on the travel documents of its two imports on the eve of the opener.

The Filipinos and the Kazakhs clash at 9:45 p.m., the closing match on opening day that will also feature Taipei Dacin Tigers versus India’s ONGC at 2:30 p.m., Sarreyyet Ramallah of Lebanon against Mono Vampires of Thailand at 4:45 p.m. then title holder China Kashgar opposite Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai at 7:30 p.m.

Imports Isaiah Austin and Rob Ebondo flew to Hong Kong to work on their Chinese visa there. As of posting time, only Austin has been granted a Chinese visa, according to head coach Chot Reyes.

But Kazakhstan might have also faced the same problem as the team has had only a nine-man roster on the official FIBA Asia Champions Cup website on the eve of the tourney.

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Veteran Kazakh center Anton Ponomarev leads the cast that includes 6-foot-4 American import Justin Anthony Carter. Also in the lineup are 6-6 forward Denis Degtyarev, 6-0 point guard Rustam Murzagaliyev, 6-3 shooting guard Rustam Yergali, 6-9 center Alexandr Zhigulin, 6-8 power forward Dmitriy Gavrilov, 6-5 guard Maxmim Marchuk and 6-7 forward Antoliy Kolesnikov.     

Konstantinos Flevarakis calls the shots for the Kazakhs team with an average height of 6-6 and average age of 27.

Team Philippines next plays Sarreyyet Ramallah of Lebanon tomorrow, Mono Vampires of Thailand Sunday then PetroChimi of Iran on Tuesday, needing a Top Four finish in their group to make the knockout stage.

Despite their little preparation, coach Reyes hopes to make the quarterfinals.


Southeast Asian Games veterans Kiefer Ravena, Carl Bryan Cruz, Raymar Jose and Almond Vosotros lead the Chooks To Go roster that includes PBA players Norbert Torres and LA Revilla, former La Salle player Jeron Teng, ex-UP Maroon Jett Manuel, former FEU Tamaraw Alfrancis Tamsi and PBA free agent Jeric Teng.

Reserves are Gab Banal and Andre Paras.

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