3x3: Butuan City eyes another title in President's Cup

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2020 04:54 PM | Updated as of Oct 26 2020 05:43 PM

Butuan City grabbed the victory in Leg 3 thanks to a Franky Johnson longball. Handout

MANILA, Philippines — After becoming only the second team to win a leg in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup, Uling Roasters-Butuan City is far from satisfied.

Their goal now is for a second straight title in Leg 4, set for Thursday at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

"This doesn't mean anything," said Franky Johnson after launching the longball that won the third leg last Sunday. "We gotta go to the next leg and execute the same thing there."

Butuan City did not drop a game in Leg 3, and displayed the all-around attack that made it a contender right from the preseason of the Philippines' pioneering 3x3 league.

Now, they have a championship under their belt as well as the league lead in terms of points.

"Of course, this is a confidence-booster for us, but we've been confident since the preseason just from knowing all the hard work we put in," said Johnson. "We prepared ourselves to give ourselves the best shot here. We're all locked in."

All eyes will be on Uling Roasters if they can continue their momentum in a new group including Bacolod-Master Sardines and Sarangani Marlins in Pool A for the fourth leg.

The newly crowned kings are well aware of a different target on their backs -- especially from revenge-seeking Family's Brand Sardines-Zamboanga City Chooks, re-energized Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, and upstarts Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors.

"They're a tough team. You saw how they played us in the finals," said Johnson of the Pasig side that gave them all they can handle. "In this league, we don't underestimate anybody. Everybody is getting better from preseason to now so our mindset is we have to level up too."

The Realtors went from a quarterfinals ending in Leg 1 to a semifinals exit in Leg 2 to a runner-up finish in Leg 3.

They have emerged as a team-to-watch, especially after stunning Zamboanga City, but will have to mix it up in Pool C with upset-conscious Bicol-Paxful 3x3 Pro and Nueva Ecija which remains waiting for Juan Gomez de Liano's return from injury.

Zamboanga City's bounce back, meanwhile, will begin in Pool B where it will be challenged by emerging Palayan City Capitals and Pagadian-Rocky Sports.

In Pool B, Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas-Porac, Petra Cement-Roxas ZN, and Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes MLV will go at it.

The top two from each group advance into the quarters and from there, knockout bouts will determine the champion who will receive P100,000 while the second- and third-placers get P30,000 and P20,000, respectively.

P100,000 is also at stake for whoever the opponent is if and when Family's Brand Sardines makes the finals. 

The amount was pledged by Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas as incentive for other teams to toughen up Philippine No. 1 Joshua Munzon, No. 2 Alvin Pasaol, No. 5 Troy Rike, and No. 6 Santi Santillan in preparation for the FIBA 3x3 Olympic qualifying tournament.

Meanwhile, the Slam Dunk Competition will again award P20, 000 to whoever wows the most among Leg 1 champion Darwin Cantong, Leg 2 and 3 winner David Carlos, and Jesus Manay.

The fourth leg is the last one before the grand finals of the FIBA 3x3-endorsed tournament scheduled for October 30.