Though undermanned and facing a different foe in the finals, the Pasig Grindhouse Kings flashed their championship pedigree and once again reigned supreme in the Chooks Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup.
Despite being down to just three players after the elimination round, the Kings were able to outlast the Pasay Voyagers in the finals, 14-12, in the tournament’s fourth leg held recently at the SM Megamall Events Center.
With the win, Pasig soared to the top of the table with a point total of 380 points. They will enter the Grand Finals on Sunday, March 31 at the SM Fairview Events Center as the top-seed.
Taylor Statham led Pasig with seven points, including two clutch baskets in the final minute to edge a gritty effort from Pasay. The Kings missed Dylan Ababou in the semis and finals after sustaining a right calf injury.
With the win, Pasig has been crowned champions for the second time of the President’s Cup, which has been recently upgraded to Quest level by FIBA. This means that the overall champions will automatically qualify for a FIBA 3X3 World Tour.
“I feel like it started early this week, we just had to refocus,” Statham said. “It’s important for us to regain focus, be cohesive as a team again, and the chips fell into their place.”
Troy Rike added four points while Joshua Munzon chipped in with three in the highly-physical affair.
“We kinda just picked our spirits up. Dylan is a great leader, so him being on the court or the sideline, he’s gonna have the same effect,” Statham shared as Ababou watched and cheered from the sidelines. “We wanted to win it for us and also for Dylan. We have two weeks now so he has time to heal up and get back to us.”
During the third leg, Statham and the Grindhouse Kings lost in a close encounter against the 1Bataan Risers in the finale. It was the third consecutive championship bout between Pasig and Bataan, and with the Risers nabbing their second title.
However, the fourth leg offered a different scenario as the Risers met a roadblock in the form of the Valenzuela Classics during the elimination round. Chris De Chavez buried a booming game-winner to sent the defending champions packing, 21-18, with 2:11 to spare.
In the semifinals, the Pasay bested Valenzuela, 21-12, to set up a finals meeting against Pasig who triumphed over the San Juan Knights, 21-16. The Classic entered the semis short-handed as Carlo De Chavez was suspended after figuring in a shoving match with QC-Zark’s Jawbreakers’ Ronnie Matias in the group stages.
“Pasay we’ve seen a few times. Obviously, we wanted to play Bataan, we wanted revenge, but that will probably come in a few weeks. But Pasay is a good team. They’re super physical. They’re a tough team to beat so it was a lot of fun,” Statham said about their opponent.