THE Pasig Grindhouse Kings sent a clear message to the rest of the playing field after ruling the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Preseason tournament on Monday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Pasig overcame the veteran-laden San Juan-Go for Gold Knights, 21-17, in the finals to be named the inaugural pre-season kings of this FIBA 3X3-sanctioned tournament.
Dylan Ababou led a young cast of Filipino-American prospects to tow Grindhouse past the Mac Cardona-led Knights.
Ababou scored 10 points in the finale, showing that he can still play at a high level despite playing with highly touted prospects Taylor Statham, Joshua Munzon, and Troy Rike.
"First of all, thankful ako kay Lord na nanalo kami, nakabigay ako ng impact sa team at na-lead ko yung team namin. It's been awhile since I won the championship, it's always a good feeling," said Ababou.
It was a see-saw match between the two teams as Cardona, alongside another PBA veteran John Wilson, bannered San Juan's attack on the onset as they went ahead early, 13-11.
But Ababou kept Pasig afloat, just enough for the young guns to find their rhythm in the end game.
Statham drained the final blow to the Knights, scoring a short floater to put the game to rest.
"Winning is a habit. Ayaw namin masanay sa talo, kailangan high standard palagi," Ababou added.
Pasig got into the finals after dropping the Alvin Pasaol-led Bataan Risers 21-15. The Knights, on the other hand, got a breezy 21-9 win over Vigan Baluarte Zoo, which is led by ex-pro Karl Dehesa.
The 12-team tournament will officially kick-off with the six-leg President's Cup on February 16, at the SM Megamall Event Center.