Mac Tello, Manila Chooks
#4 Mac Tallo of Manila Chooks attempts a shot against Ub Huishan NE's Marko Brankovic during their opening match of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour's Manila Masters. Chooks-To-Go Press Release


  • Manila Chooks was booted from the Manila Masters on day one after two losses
  • Paul Desiderio, Mac Tallo and head coach Chico Lanete still look back on the experience fondly
  • The group is aiming for success at the Cebu Masters in late September

The Philippines welcomed the FIBA 3x3 World Tour to its shores this past weekend for the Manila Masters leg where the hometown Manila Chooks hoped to use the magic of playing in their own backyard to fuel them to a victory.

However, the Filipino delegation ran into Utsunomiya Opener winners and current No. 1 seed Ub Huishan NE of Serbia who had the tournament's best player in "Doctor Strange" Strahinja Stojacic leading the charge as they were routed 21-9.

Despite their best efforts against Japan's Utsunomiya BREX EXE in their second game of day one, the Filipinos' efforts just fell short of a victory as Marko Milakovic sank the dagger in their hearts to win 22-18–unceremoniously booting them out of the two-day tournament.

The International Business Times spoke with the Chooks' Paul Desiderio, "Spider" Mac Tallo and head coach Chico Lanete after the matches on how they were able to keep the game close against BREX EXE.

"We really focused on being more in-tune both defensively and offensively, but more on our defense. Especially with Tosh (Sesay), he was only able to come here on Tuesday (May 16), so there was a struggle in building that chemistry in time," Desiderio stated.

"We didn't want to embarrass the fans who came here to watch us play, and most especially, (Chooks-to-Go owner) boss Ronald [Mascarinas]. For us, we really wanted to make it to day two of the Manila Masters because our goal is to reach the semis; just that sense of building up on our success for the future.," Tallo later added.

The pair appeared to be the keys to the Philippines' success in bouncing back in the matchup with BREX EXE–particularly Desidierio, who was a standout college cager in his own right.

Desiderio opened up the scoring charge for Chooks, being responsible for five of their 18 points, including their first three buckets.

Manila Chooks, FIBA 3x3 Manila Masters
From L-R: #6 Tosh Sesay, #3 Paul Desiderio, #4 Mac Tallo and #1 Dennis Santos of Manila Chooks ahead of the 2023 Manila Masters of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour. FIBA 3x3

A late-game surge fueled by defensive miscues on the end of the Filipinos allowed BREX EXE to be more aggressive in the paint and score most of their last baskets from the free-throw line.

One major change they made entering the BREX EXE match was to allow Tallo to play the point and read the court from there–a change pushed by Lanete.

"I had full confidence in him to read the defense and let him dictate the game. The players responded well to it," Lanete mentioned.

Tallo, who sent Stojacic to the floor in the 2022 Manila Masters, played more of a point guard role in this year's edition as he looked to get his teammates Desiderio, Dennis Santos and Tosh Sesay going.

That change allowed the Filipinos to take the fight to BREX EXE despite not having enough time to train together as Desiderio pointed out earlier.

As the FIBA 3x3 World Tour heads to Marseille, France next, Chooks will have a couple of months before the Cebu Masters on September 23 and 24, and both Desiderio and Tallo have high hopes for it.

"I'll stick with (Manila) Chooks and help the program. Obviously, earn some wins along the way and help them reach the goal of playing in the Olympics," Desiderio mentioned.

"The higher-ups told us that we're gonna have two teams for the Cebu Masters and, hopefully, there's gonna be other leagues that we'll be invited to for us to get more reps because that's really important. When we go back to training, it's going to be a different atmosphere because we want to work on our mistakes from the Manila Masters," Tallo declared.

Marko Milakovic, FIBA 3x3 Manila Masters
#3 Marko Milakovic of Utsunomiya BREX EXE attempts a layup against #4 Dennis Santos of Manila Chooks during their match at the Manila Masters leg of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour on May 20, 2023. FIBA 3x3