Chooks stars Munzon, Pasaol bring decorated 3×3 résumé in pursuit of PBA dream

Published December 27, 2020, 2:44 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Photos from Chooks to Go

The pandemic-hit 2020 turned out to be a swan song for the top players of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 as Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Troy Rike and Santi Santillan teamed up to give Zamboanga City-Family’s Brand Sardines to President’s Cup title.

Munzon, Pasaol, Rike and Santillan encountered little trouble during the two-week tournament held under a bubble setup at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, winning four of the five legs including the P1-million Grand Finals.

They would join forces one more time for Manila Chooks in the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Doha Masters, falling short of reaching the quarterfinals after losing both matches in pool play against Liman and Lusail.

Activities in Chooks 3×3 were put on hold due to COVID-19, particularly the country’s stint in the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Munzon and Pasaol along with PBA stars CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa, who were part of the country’s gold medal win in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games 3×3 tilt, were already preparing for the OQT when the pandemic put plans to a halt.

Focus then centered on starting the fledgling 3×3 league of Chooks boss Ronald Mascarinas which was given professional status by the Games and Amusements Board.

The Inter-Agency Task Force later approved the staging of the President’s Cup in Calamba with a compact schedule composed of five legs in two weeks.

And upon entering the bubble, there was no question as to which team was the dominant one as Zamboanga City took the first two legs before suffering a minor setback when it suffered an early exit in the third leg won by Butuan City.

Read: Zamboanga City aims for grand prize in Chooks 3×3

Zamboanga City bounced back in the fourth leg, defeating Butuan in the final to claim the top seed in the Grand Finals. Munzon, Pasaol, Rike and Santillan defeated Porac and Pasig to set up a duel with Nueva Ecija for the title and the top purse of P1 million.

Nueva Ecija made its way to the Grand Finals despite the absence of Juan Gomez de Liano to an ankle injury, edging out Butuan 20-19 in a heated semifinal affair marred by a postgame scuffle by both teams.

The Rice Vanguards, composed of Jai Reyes, Gab Banal and Tonino Gonzaga, tried to score an upset over the heavily-favored Zamboanga City side but Munzon put that bid to rest by sinking a two-point shot to seal a 22-19 win.

The President’s Cup and FIBA World Tour stints were the last for the four top 3×3 players, who later informed Chooks officials of their decision to join next year’s PBA Rookie Draft.