BRIDESMAIDS but never the bride, Wilkins Balanga hopes to finally end its heartbreaks when the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Magiting Cup commences on Sunday.
Leg winners thrice in the first two conferences, the squad has established itself as a perennial contender, although bowed both instances in the Grand Finals.
This time out, continuity will be the biggest edge on the side of Wilkins Balanga with Alvin Pasaol leading the charge together with holdovers Karl Dehesa, Santi Santillan and Chris de Chavez.
Their chemistry will be tested in the all-Filipino conference, especially with changes abound in the Fiba Quest-level tourney that will span for five legs.
President's Cup champion Equalivet Pasig will still have Joshua Munzon and Dylan Ababou, with new additions Leo de Vera and Travis Thompson.
Meanwhile, Philippines Troy Rike and Franky Johnson will carry the load for Patriot's Cup titlist Basilan Phenom CTC Construction, and this time, they will have Davon Potts and Aris Dionisio by their side.
Returning for this third conference are Zamboanga Valientes MLV (Jonathan Parreno, Das Esa, Jon Rebollos, and Mark Tano); Uling Roaster - Gulf Supreme Boosters Bulacan (Clarence Graham, Kobe Caronongan, Louis Montes, and Nelson Mendoza Jr.); Sogo Vigan (Christian Singson, Jan Jamon, Paulo Hubalde, and Jojo Cunanan); Thunder-Gold's Gym Taguig (Inigo Arellano, Aurelio Opena Norberte Jr., Mark Anthony Taylor, and Geno Anderson); and Mindoro Tamaraws 7A (Francis Nathaniel Acedillo, Jay Remon Axalan, Luigi Natada, and Rodel Vaygan).
Five new 3x3 teams will also be welcomed in the Magiting Cup.
J&J Pateros (Ervin Flores, RJ Deles, Kiddo Cabrera, and Rob Ricafort); Bicol Volcanoes (Andro Quinday, EJ Canelas, Mark Atabay, and Aldrianne Anglim); Partas Narvacan (Dan Reducto, Gian Abrigo, AJ Asis, and Pari Llagas); and Fyr Fyter Bacolod (Raymund Ilagan, Mark Yee, Mark dela Cruz, and Louie Medalla) complete the 12-team lineup for this conference.
First leg of the competitions will be at SM Clark in Pampanga, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the crossover playoffs.
Basilan is placed in Pool A together with Narvacan and Bacolod; Pasig is in Pool B with Bulacan and Taguig; Balanga is slotted in Pool C with Vigan and Bicol; and Pool D is made up of Zamboanga, Mindoro, and Pateros.
At stake for the leg championship is the P 100,000 cash prize.
SM Fairview will host the second leg on September 6, SM BF Paranaque for the third and fourth legs on Sept. 10 and Set. 15, respectively, and the Grand Finals will return at SM Megamall on Sept. 21.
Magiting Cup serves as the country's last ditch effort to rack up Fiba 3x3 points to earn a spot in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for the 3x3 competitions in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.