Saitama of Japan rules 3×3 Quest; Manila Chooks retire in semi-finals
Tokyo Olympian Tomoya Ochiai and Japan’s Saitama claim 3×3 International Quest crown as Manila Chooks emerge as top performing Filipino team
SANTA ROSA, Philippines — Japan’s Saitama won his first major title after sweeping the 2022 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 International Quest following a 20-13 win over Mongolia’s Zaisan MMC Energy in the final on Friday night September 16th at Ayala Malls Solenad here in Laguna.
The newly formed team took advantage of their size and speed against their most spent foes, retiring late on the way to dominate the five-game unbeaten one-day encounter to take home US$10,000.
“I said it in 2019 and I’ll say it again, I really love the Philippines,” said Japanese No. 6 player and Tokyo Olympian Tomoya Ochiai, who was part of the Tokyo Dime team that won the first Chooks-to-See you at Asia Pacific Super Quest in 2019.
“New team, it feels really good to have been able to reach the Masters. It will be exciting,” added the 35-year-old 3×3 specialist.
More importantly, the Alphas are now on their way to next month’s FIBA 3×3 World Tour Cebu Masters Chooks-to-Go with their Mongolian counterparts as the two finalists secured two of the last spots in the max-level tournament .
Saitama secured a main draw seat while Zaisan will feature in the qualifying draw.
Manila Chooks, the only Filipino team to reach the semi-finals, narrowly lost to Zaisan, 17-15, to end their bid for a title berth.
The quartet of Chico Lanete, Henry Iloka, Dennis Santos and Dave Ando were the only home side to qualify for the penultimate stage as Cebu Chooks and Butuan Chooks ended their campaigns after heartbreaking group stage losses .
Saitama’s towering center Teodor Atanasov led the way in the final with 8 points, while youngster Ryo Ozawa scored 6 in the win.
Ochiai and Marko Milakovic had 2 points apiece for Saitama, who led by as much as 8 points with just 1:17 left after engaging in a pinch-and-tuck affair early.
Ulzii-Orshikh Myagmarsuren led Zaisan with 6 points, while Ganbaatar Nyamdorj had 5 in the loss which saw them settle for US$5,000.
It was actually a meeting of familiar foes as the two clubs had faced each other in Pool B earlier, with the Japanese side triumphing, 20-11.
Zaisan, however, was the first to reach the championship round after ousting Manila Chooks in the semi-finals. Saitama followed suit after beating Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy in overtime, 18-16.
Reaching the FIBA 3×3 Tier 8 Tournament Finals, the two join Utsonomiya, Sansar, Antwerp, Riga, Amsterdam, Jeddah, Lausanne, Omaha, Ludhiana and Doha at the Cebu Masters on October 1-2.
Saitama 20 – Atanasov 11, Milakovic 4, Ozawa 3, Ochiai 2.
Zaisan 13 – Myagmarsuren 6, Nyamdorj 5, Chuluunbaatar 1, Batsaikhan 1.
Zaisan 17 – Myagmarsuren 13, Nyamdorj 3, Chuluunbaatar 1, Batsaikhan 0.
Manila 15 – Iloka 10, Santos 2, Ando 2, Lanete 1.
Saitama 18 – Milakovic 8, Ozawa 6, Ochiai 2, Milakovic 2.
Ulaanbaatar 16 – Enkhbat 8, Davaasambuu 7, Gotov 1, Tsogt 0.