Manila Chooks TM left Manila Sunday evening as it heads to Qatar for the 2020 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters.
The quartet of Philippines no. 1 Joshua Munzon, no. 2 Alvin Pasaol, no. 5 Troy Rike, and no. 6 Santi Santillan left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 11:30PM aboard Qatar Airways flight QR929. They are expected to arrive at the Hamad International Airport 4:30AM Monday.
Nerve-wracking was the hours before the team took off as the visas of the four Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 stars only arrived six hours before lift-off.
"The spirit of bayanihan was truly alive," expressed Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 league owner Ronald Mascariñas.
"FIBA 3X3's senior manager Ignacio Soriano and 3x3 Events and Partners Associate Valentina Mattioli -- both of whom are in Spain -- and the Qatar ministry moved heaven and earth just to get the visas for the players," he continued as all participants in the level 10-ranked 3x3 tournament must be in Doha on Monday, November 16.
Once the team arrives in Doha, they, together with team photographer Jerome Ascano of SPIN.ph, will undergo a mandatory room quarantine in their hotels and will only be allowed to go out once their PCR test results are back.
Five days before the event, FIBA 3x3 has yet to release the groupings for this tournament that has USD 40,000 waiting for the champion team.
Also in the tournament are Liman and UB of Serbia; Riga of Latvia; NY Harlem and Princeton of USA; Lausanne of Switzerland; Jeddah and Riyadh of Saudi Arabia; Kamakura and Yoyogi of Japan; Bielefeld of Germany; Utana of Lithuania; and home team Lusail.
Team captain Pasaol, who during the 2019 edition of the tournament steered Balanga to the quarterfinals, believes that they are more mature now compared to then.
"Born-ready kami. We’re confident naman eh dahil doon sa pinakita namin doon sa Calambubble sobrang laki ng inimprove ng team namin lalo na sa tiyaga," said the Davao-native as the President's Cup powered by TM two weeks ago was the perfect training ground for this tournament.
"Hindi kami naiinip or nasisiraan man ng kumpyansa dahil malakas ang kalaban. Yun yung pinakamaganda sa amin ngayon kasi yun nga parang kalmado lang, hindi masyadong nagpapanic, yun yung good side doon."