Cebu Chooks still in contention

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Manila Chooks got an early boot in the qualifying draw, dampening the retirement ceremony of playing trainer Chico Lanete as the elite Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3x3 World Tour Cebu Masters unfurled yesterday at the SM City Seaside here.

Despite a roaring support from the Cebuano crowd, Manila Chooks under the leadership of Lanete fell short in progressing to the main draw as it bowed to Doha in the finals of the qualifiers, 21-16.

The loss, which came after a 21-17 win over India’s Ludhiana in the first match, denied Manila Chooks a seat in Pool D featuring Switzerland’s Lausanne and Mongolia’s Ulaanbaatar.

Cebu Chooks, on other hand, qualified to the main draw but absorbed a tough 16-11 loss against world No. 3 and top-seeded Antwerp of Belgium in Pool A.

Cebuano pride Mac Tallo put up five points for Cebu Chooks that also included Mike Nzeusseu, Zach Huang and Brandon Ramirez. Cebu (0-1) was to play Omaha (0-1) from the United States last night for a seat in the knockout round as Antwerp already advanced with a 2-0 card.

For Manila Chooks, Henry Iloka led the way with 21 points in two games as Ken Holmqvist, Dennis Santos and Lanete provided help in its bid for the main draw.

Manila Chooks and Cebu Chooks made it to the quarterfinals of the Manila Masters last May as the prestigious FIBA 3x3 World Tour held two legs in the Philippines ahead of the finale in Abu Dhabi in December.

Still, the electrifying opening day of the Cebu Masters belonged to the 43-year-old Lanete, who called it a career after an illustrious 15-year pro stint that culminated in the booming 3x3 basketball.

“Chico is really who I consider a hero for his service to his country. Marami siyang pinasaya as a pro player. In the twilight of his career, sinigurado niya na pagsilbihan ang ating bayan,” said Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas.

“Speechless ako. Maraming salamat Boss Ronald for the opportunity. Maraming salamat sa pagsuporta ninyo sa amin. Hindi niyo iniwan ‘yung family ko,” shared the emotional Lanete, who was rewarded a Chooks-to-Go store as a retirement gift.

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