MANILA, Philippines -- Zamboanga City Chooks rose to the top once again, ruling the fourth leg of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup on Tuesday night at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Santi Santillan's hustle keyed Zamboanga City's return to the throne, with his offensive rebound and ensuing free throw powering his side to a hard-earned 21-20 win over Butuan City in seven minutes and 27 seconds.
Joshua Munzon caught fire early, and his long ball pushed Zamboanga City to a 20-16 lead with three and half minutes left on the clock.
But Chris De Chavez nailed back-to-back two-pointers to knot the count at 20-all. In the next play, Munzon misfired on a deuce that could have ended the match.
Fortunately for them, Santillan was at the right place at the right time, as he secured the rebound and was fouled. He coolly converted the charity to hand Zamboanga City their third championship out of the four legs in the conference.
"Noong unang game pa lang, bad start na kami so yung next games, kinailangan naming mag-adjust," said Santillan. "Mula noon, binigay namin 'yung 100%."
Santillan finished with six points as Zamboanga City claimed the P100,00 prize. Moreover, the team achieved its goal of recovering from a shocking loss in the quarterfinals of the third leg.
"When we lost that game, I felt like the world was crashing down," said Troy Rike. "But I just reminded myself that if we take care of business, we're right we need to be even after a bump on the road."
The two teams faced tough tests before meeting in the championship round.
Zamboanga City took out history-making Sarangani, 21-13 (8:25) in the semis after taking care of Zamboanga Peninsula in the quarters, 21-16 (7:30).
On the other hand, Butuan City came back from the dead to snatch away a quarters win at the expense of Nueva Ecija, 21-20 (8:08) and then came out on top of upset-conscious Palayan City, 21-10 (8:57) in the semis.
Uling Roasters fell short of defending the championship, but they still receive P100,000 since Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas pledged the amount to whoever the opponent is whenever Family's Brand Sardines makes the Finals.
Even before the Leg 4 championship round, though, the top four of the Grand Finals had already been set in stone.
Heading into the penultimate leg, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, Nueva Ecija, and Pasig were way ahead in terms of points.
That didn't change at the end of Leg 4 and those four teams will no longer have to go through the qualifying round of the Grand Finals in the FIBA 3x3-endorsed tournament scheduled for Friday, still at Inspire Sports Academy.
In the ultimate winner-take-all tournament with P1M on the line, the bottom eight teams in the rankings will first figure in knockout bouts with only four advancing into the next round.
The quarterfinals, semifinals, and Finals will still be elimination matches with the best of the best taking home the title of best 3x3 team in the Philippines - and winner in the 'Million Peso Game,' of course.
Meanwhile, Petra Cement-Roxas ZN retained the TM Two-Point Shootout title with Roider Cabrera drilling all of his 10 shots in the tiebreaker round versus Dehesa.
Teammate Janus Lozada was the first-ever to achieve the feat two days ago.
In the TM Slam Dunk Contest, David Carlos reigned supreme for the third time out of four.