MANILA, Philippines -- Zamboanga City lived up to its billing by reigning supreme in the preseason of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go President's Cup, but the players were far from satisfied with how they performed.
Considered the heavy favorite with the country's top two players in Joshua Munzon and Alvin Pasaol leading the way, Zamboanga City won its opener last Monday at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
But it suffered a shock loss to upstart Bicol-Paxful 3x3 Pro, 19-21, in the group stages.
The result was a wake-up call to Zamboanga City, said Pasaol.
"Sobrang upset sa amin yun. Sobrang taas ng tingin ng ibang teams sa amin, na top team-to-beat nga kami," said Pasaol of the 19-21 defeat. "Masyadong complacent kami sa nangyari na yun so nag-usap-usap kaming wag na natin uulitin yun."
Following the loss, Zamboanga City ran off three straight wins, including a dominant win over Nueva Ecija in the semis, 21-14, and a 21-17 conquest of Bacolod in the Finals.
"It showed that we're able to fight through adversity," Munzon said of their preseason win.
They now hope to build on that momentum as they duke it out with 11 other teams in the first leg of the President's Cup, which starts on Wednesday in the league's bubble in Calamba.
All of the action will still be aired on BEAM TV Ch. 31 and streamed on Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Facebook and FIBA 3x3 YouTube starting at 1:00 p.m with a simple opening ceremony.
Zamboanga City has been grouped together with Saranggani Marlins and MLV-Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes in Pool A while the Rice Vanguards and Master Sardines are in Pool D alongside Petra Cement Roxas ZN.
Pool B is then made up of Uling Roasters-Butuan, Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors, and Pagadian Rocky Sports while Bicol, Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas MSC-Porac, and Palayan City Capitals comprise Pool C.
The top two from each group advance into the quarterfinals and from there, knockout bouts will determine the champion which will receive P100,000 while the second- and third-placers get P30,000 and P20,000, respectively.
"We can't come here and think we're gonna win because of the guys we have in our team. We got to take everything seriously and got to be ready to play," said Munzon of their mindset ahead of the first leg.
The conference will also feature the TM Slam Dunk Competition which has P20,000 at stake.
High-flyers David Carlos, Jesus Manay, and Darwin Cantong will go at it in the side event that has a P10,000 prize as well for the runner-up.
The league's best snipers will also take part in the TM Two-Point Shootout which has P10,000 waiting for the champion.
Following the first leg will be three more legs every other day ahead of the Grand Finals of the FIBA-endorsed tournament scheduled for October 30.