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Pasig Chooks advances to quarterfinals of Manila Challenger

Joshua Munzon and Troy Rike of Pasig Chooks celebrate after their win. Joaqui Flores/CTG

Pasig Chooks was able to nab the final quarterfinals ticket of the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Manila Challenger with a stirring 19-15 win over Kranj of Slovenia Saturday night at SM Fairview.

Joshua Munzon spearheaded Pasig's offense with 10 points followed by Nikola Pavlovic's seven while Troy Rike and Dylan Ababou added a point each. The quartet had to go through a gauntlet of competition, playing in four games including the Qualifying Draw.

"It feels good, coming from the Qualifying Draw. Getting three out of four, it was a long day. I'm tired, we are [all] tired. We need to get some rest," said Munzon as he and his team will get a chance to enter 2019 Jeddah Masters and take home USD 15,000 should they win the tournament on Sunday.

Pasig, ranked 28th in the world, was able to advance into the main draw in Pool D after defeating Isabela City Chooks and Zamboanga Valientes MLB earlier in the day. They lost their next bout versus world no. 21 Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy, 16-22.

Against Kranj, Pasig raced to an 11-5 lead. The Slovenian team shrugged off the slow start and leaned on Cecil Brown and Igor Tratnik to cut the deficit to two, 15-17, with less than a minute remaining. However, clutch baskets from Munzon and Ababou gave the Philippines the victory.

"We showed a lot of puso, showed a lot of heart. Troy [Rike - back] and Dylan [Ababou - right shoulder] are hurt but still gave everything they got, that speaks a lot about the character of this team," said Munzon.

Pasig will take on Lyon in the quarterfinals at 1:10pm on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Balanga Chooks was eliminated from competition after falling to Humpolec of Czech Republic, 16-20 (8:19) and Riga Ghetto of Latvia, 15-22.

"They were really good and we have no regrets. We gave everything we had," Alvin Pasaol said in Filipino.

The four-man crew of Pasaol, Lamar Roberson, Travis Franklin, and Karl Dehesa could not overpower the world no. 2 team. Franklin and Roberson had six points apiece while Pasaol had three.

"This is experience for our future tournaments," said Pasaol.

Despite failing to advance, Balanga will still head to Jeddah after being a finalist in the Chooks-to-Go Patriots Cup.