THE Philippines and Mongolia will once again be crossing paths in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas FIBA 3×3 World Tour Cebu Masters that will be held on October 1 and 2 at the SM Seaside City in Cebu.
The Philippines, the 22nd country in the FIBA 3×3 world ranking, will be represented by two teams – Cebu Chooks which has a guaranteed spot in the main draw, and Manila Chooks which will go through the qualifying draw. Mongolia, 4th in the world and the highest ranked Asian country, will also be fielding two teams: Sansar, seeded in the main draw, and Ulaanbaatar, playing in the qualifying draw.
The teams from the two proud, basketball-loving Asian countries have matched up 21 times this year in five tournaments.
The Mongolians sent two teams to the Philippines last April 30 for the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Asia Pacific Super Quest held in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Zaisan fell to Manila Chooks in the group stage. Sansar prevailed over Butuan Chooks, but dropped a close one to Cebu Chooks in the group stage. Sansar and Cebu Chooks met again in the finals with the home team prevailing, 17-15.
A week later, it was the Philippines’ turn to visit Mongolia for the Ulaanbaatar Super Quest. Cebu Chooks defeated Amgalan, but were downed by Ulaanbaatar and Zavkhan. Manila Chooks earned better results as it notched two victories over Zaisan and Sansar and lost two games to Zavkhan and Zaisan in the semifinals.
The Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas FIBA 3×3 World Tour Manila Masters last May 28 and 29 staged at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay saw four Mongolian teams flying over to the Philippines.
The two countries went 2-2 against each other in the competition. Ulaanbaatar started hostilities with a 22-11 win over Manila Chooks. Cebu Chooks exacted some payback on a Mac Tallo game-winner by prevailing over Zavkhan, 21-19. Chico Lanete also had his chance to play hero as his two free throws helped Manila Chooks edge Zaisan, 21-19. But Mongolia would have the last laugh in the knockout stage as Sansar triumphed over Manila Chooks, 21-16.
It would take three months before the two countries faced each other anew. This happened in the Penang Challenger in Malaysia. Cebu Chooks, featuring a debuting Vince Tolentino, would go 2-1 up in their head-to-head encounters with Zavkhan which they defeated in thrilling fashion, 18-15.
The Mongolians dominated their Filipino counterparts in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas FIBA 3×3 International Quest held last September 16 at the Ayala Malls Solenad. Zaisan blasted Butuan Chooks, 22-7, while Zavkhan escaped with a nail-biter over Manila Chooks, 19-17. Zaisan also posted victories against Cebu Chooks and Manila Chooks. It took another clutch free throw from Lanete to notch for the Philippines its lone win over Mongolia when Manila Chooks downed world number eight Ulaanbaatar, 21-20.
The current head-to-head between the two countries shows Mongolia posting 11 wins, while the Philippines has won over Mongolia 10 times.
It will be interesting to see how the four teams from both countries perform against each other in the Cebu Masters in what is turning out to be one of the most gripping rivalries in FIBA 3×3 basketball.