A MANILA North team led by Calvin Abueva battles Kranj of Slovenia and Doha of Qatar on Thursday in the 2015 Fiba 3x3 World Tour in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.
Abueva, Alaska teammate Vic Manuel, Talk 'N Text rookie Troy Rosario and Mahindra's Karl Dehesa begin their Pool D campaign with a game against the Slovenians at 1:20 p.m. (9:20 a.m. Manila time) before taking on the Qataris at 3:10 p.m. (12:10 p.m. Manila time).
The top two teams from each group advance to the do-or-die quarterfinals, with the last four competing for the finals spots in the tournament ruled last year by Novi Sad of UAE.
Novi Sad is now in Pool A with Rio of Brazil and Vilnius of Lithuania. Pool B has Ljubljana of Slovenia, Santos of Brazil and Denver of the United States, while in Pool C are Trbovlje of Slovenia, Kolobrzeg of Poland and New York Harlem of USA.
Novi Sad ruled the 2014 World Tour in Sendai, Japan where it defeated Saskatoon of Canada in the final. Manila West, which upset Doha in the Manila Masters final, finished fiftn behind Kranj and Bucharest.
With Abueva are Aces teammate Vic Manuel, who made a last-minute decision to join the team, Mahindra’s Karl Dehesa and Talk ‘N Text rookie Troy Rosario.
“Laban lang kami para sa bayan,” said Abueva prior to the team's departure, “Basta kami, ibibigay namin lahat ng makakaya para sa Pilipinas.”
Manila North qualified for the world championship after finishing second to Novi Sad Al Wahda in the Fiba Manila Masters leg last August at Robinson’s Place in Ermita.
En route to gaining a slot in Abu Dhabi, Abueva and Co. dethroned Terrence Romeo and the Manila West team in the semifinals.
Abueva made news in the Fiba 3x3 last year with an emotional return from the hospital where he had earlier rushed his wife who was about to give birth to their fourth son.
With injury-saddled Manila North trailing Xinzhuang in the quarters, Abueva rushed into the Fashion Hall of SM Megamall and saved the day for his team to the deafening cheer of the packed five-story balcony.