By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE FIBA 3×3 World Tour unfurls its ninth edition in April and is set to make a stop for one of its legs in the Philippines after five years.

Announced by the world basketball governing body on Monday, the flagship competition of the FIBA 3×3 professional season will open in Doha, Qatar, on April 2-3 and will have 12 other stops in between before culminating with the finals to happen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in November.

The Philippines will be the venue for the second leg of the tour on May 2-3 and will be staged with support from long-time 3×3 hoops backer Chooks-to-Go.

It will mark the first time after five years that the country will host a leg tour after 2015 whose significance was not lost to FIBA, which underscored how the Manila event, held in a mall, did a lot in showing the flexibility of 3×3 and the concept of bringing the sport to the people.

Chooks-to-Go said that the May 3×3 competition will be held at the SM Megamall Fashion Hall.

“2020 is a big year for 3×3 and we’re excited to see our number one competition — the FIBA 3×3 World Tour — continue to expand so quickly. We’re proud to attract new amazing cities like Riyadh for the Final and — at the same time — to return after many years to exceptional cities where World Tour history was made like Abu Dhabi and Manila,” said FIBA 3×3 Managing Director Alex Sanchez.

Now a 14-leg tour, up from 12 last year, the prize money has also expanded, now reaching a total of $2.8 million from $2.1 million in 2019.

The yearly World Tour has teams representing cities from around the world qualify for 13 Masters and a Final through a worldwide network of qualifying tournaments, such as the Challengers, and via the FIBA 3×3 Team Ranking.

Expected to compete in the event are some of the world’s best 3×3 clubs, including Liman, Novi Sad, Riga Ghetto, and NY Harlem.

Serving as the qualifier for local teams is the upcoming 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup which begins next month.

Five Masters will be held before July 25 — Doha, Manila, Chengdu (China), Mexico City (Mexico) and Utsunomiya (Japan) — when 3×3 will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Action resumes after the Games with stops in Prague (Czech Republic), Lausanne (Switzerland), Debrecen (Hungary), Montreal (Canada), Los Angeles (USA), China (city to be announced), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).

The top 12 teams in the World Tour standings after the last Masters earn a ticket to the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Final.