ULAANBAATAR of Mongolia and 3x3.Exe Premier of Japan emerge as the favorites to come away with the title in the Chooks-to-Go 3x3 Asia Pacific Super Quest this weekend.
The international squads, ranked in the top 20 clubs in the world, pose as the biggest threat to the Philippines' quest to send two representatives to the Doha Masters of the 2019 Fiba 3x3 World Tour.
World no. 15 Ulaanbaatar is favored to top Pool A when they clash against TSV Reading Cinema of Australia and Enerskin of Korea, bannered by former Alab Pilipinas import and longtime national team player Lee Seung Jun.
Meanwhile, 3x3.Exe Premier, the 19th-ranked 3x3 club, is on a collision course against President's Cup runner-up 1Bataan Risers in Pool B, which will have mainstays Alvin Pasaol and Santi Santillan, World Cup veteran Karl Dehesa, and former G-Leaguer Travis Franklin.
Anytours M1 of Hong Kong, led by ex-PBA import Reggie Okosa, round out the pool.
President's Cup champions Pasig Grindhouse Kings, on the other hand, is slotted in Pool C as the squad of Joshua Munzon, Taylor Statham, Troy Rike, and ex-Novi Sad campaigner Nikola Pavlovic of Serbia brace for the challenge of Absolute 3x3 of Chinese Taipei and Jakarta West Bandits of Indonesia.
Completing the list in Pool D are Aotearoa of Australia, SSLC of China, and Vietnam's Saigon Aces, flanked by former Adamson guard Ryan Monteclaro.
All 12 teams met each other for the first time on Friday in the welcome dinner at Crowne Plaza Grand Ballroom with Fiba 3x3 executive director Alex Sanchez serving as the special guest.
"We've been impressed with what Chooks-to-Go has done over the last five weeks. Fiba's been happy to find a partner in Manila and in the Philippines," he said. Hopefully, we'll have a team of Filipinos in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with all of these activities."
Pool play for the Super Quest is on Saturday, with the top two teams in each pool progressing to the knockout playoffs on Sunday.
The champion will take home the US$20,000 cash prize and will earn a ticket to the Doha Masters from April 18 to 19, as well as the Penang Challenger from May 12 to 13.
The runner-up will also go to Doha and will bag US$15,000, while the semifinalists will book their ticket to the Huoqian International Kunshan Challenger from May 18 to 19.