Latvia emerged as champions in the Chooks-to-Go Cebu Masters’ ‘Battle of the Olympians’ finale

By: Glendale G. Rosal - CDNDigital Correspondent | October 03,2022 - 06:31 AM
Photo of winning squad from Latvia during the awarding ceremonies.

Riga of Latvia players flank Chooks-to-Go and Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. (BAVI) President Ronald Mascariñas during the awarding ceremony of the 2022 Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3×3 World Tour Cebu Masters at the SM Seaside City Cebu on October 2, 2022. | Photo from Chooks-to-Go

CEBU CITY, Philippines— Cebuano basketball fans were treated to a world-class championship match between two Olympian 3×3 squads in the finale of the 2022 Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3×3 World Tour Cebu Masters at the SM Seaside City Cebu last Sunday evening, October 2, 2022.

This as Riga of Latvia, the same team that bagged the Tokyo Olympics men’s 3×3 basketball gold medal, clashed with the No. 3 team in the FIBA 3×3 world rankings, Antwerp of Belgium, which was bannered by two Olympians.

Both teams went at each other in a nerve-wracking championship match, with the Latvians escaping with a 21-19 victory to be hailed as the kings of the Cebu Masters, a max-level FIBA world tour tilt.

Nauris Miezis hoisted the “Most Valuable Player” plum in the tournament after scoring ten points, including the two game-winning free throws with 4.8 seconds left in the match.

Miezis, a 2020 World Tour MVP, also had three rebounds, teammate Karlis Lasmanis had six points, Edgars Krumins chipped in three points, and Agnis Čavars with two points.

Antwerp’s Olympian Thibaut Vervoort scored seven points for his team’s losing efforts, while Dennis Donkor had five. Another Belgian Olympian, Nick Celis, scored four, while Bryan De Valck had three points.

The Belgians didn’t lose without a fight. They crawled back from a six-point deficit until they tied the game and took the lead, 15-14, with 1:44 left after Donkor sank a two-pointer from the left wing.

Antwerp stretched their lead to three, 17-14, with 1:23 left from Donkor and Vervoort’s efforts.

However, Miezis made back-to-back baskets that tied the game at 17-all. He then fired a two-pointer from the right side, putting them back ahead, 19-17, with 45 seconds left.

The Belgians fought hard to keep the game close until the last dying seconds, where they were forced to commit fouls to prolong the game.

Miezes, with the nerves of steel, easily sank both free throws to win the title and go back home to Latvia with his team, $40,000 richer.

Antwerp didn’t go home empty-handed as they earned $30,000 for placing as the runners-up.

“I think I’m born for this moment. That was a tough game — always against Antwerp. Last minute, we took our game into our hands. I’m happy that we won,” said Miezis.

In the side event, Vervoort took home the shoot-out contest title by scoring 14 points, while Cebu Chook’s Mac Tallo placed second, followed by Ulaanbaatar’s Steve Sir and Manila Chooks’ Chico Lanete.

In the slam dunk contest, Polish high-flyer Piotr Grabowski won the title and earned a $4,000 purse.

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TAGS: 2022 Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3x3 World Tour Cebu Masters, Antwerp of Belgium, basketball, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, Olympians, Riga of Latvia

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