CALAMBA – Order was restored in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup powered by TM after Zamboanga City-Family’s Brand Sardines ruled the fourth leg.
Santi Santillan’s championship-clinching free throw propelled Zamboanga City to a narrow 21-20 victory over Uling Roasters Butuan City for its third leg championship Tuesday inside the INSPIRE Sports Academy bubble here.
With the exciting game tied at 20-20, Joshua Munzon missed the potential championship-clinching two-pointer.
Fortunately for Zamboanga City, Santillan was at the right place at the right time and grabbed the rebound.
Fouled by Chris de Chavez while trying for a follow-up, Santillan calmly converted the free throw that won it for Zamboanga City by slimmest of margins.
Butuan City, which rallied from a 16-20 deficit courtesy of De Chavez’s consecutive two-pointers, fell short on its bid to claim its second straight leg crown.
Zamboanga City rebounded from the third leg’s sudden quarterfinals exit and its return to the throne will be a big boost heading into tomorrow’s Grand Finals of the five-legged tournament sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board.
“Nung unang game pa lang, bad start na kami so yung next games, kinailangan naming mag-adjust,” said Santillan, who finished with six points. “Mula nun, binigay namin yung 100 percent.”
Munzon led Zamboanga with 11 points, as Alvin Pasaol struggled in the entire fourth leg.
Pasaol scored only three points, but Zamboanga City’s next man-up mentality keyed the pre-season favorite’s penultimate leg triumph.
“I think that’s the great thing about our team. I’m so lucky to playing with such talented players. I think, we play a team game. So we put an emphasis on pick and roll today
which opened up a lot of opportunities for me and Santi,” said Troy Rike.
“I just think we played good team basketball,” he added.
De Chavez took the scoring mantle for Butuan City with 12 points while Karl Dehesa and JR Alabanza each added four markers.
The two teams, which are already seeded in the quarterfinals of Grand Finals, faced tough tests before meeting anew in the championship round.
Zamboanga City eliminated first-time semifimalist Sarangani, 21-13 (8:25) in the semis after taking care of the Zamboanga Peninsula Valientes MLV in the quarters, 21-16.
On the other hand, Butuan City came back from the dead to snatch away a quarters win at the expense of the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, 21-20 and then came out on top of the surging Palayan City Capitals, 21-10, in the semis.
In the ultimate winner-take-all tournament, the bottom eight teams in the rankings will first figure in knockout bouts with only four advancing into the next round.
Meanwhile, Petra Cement-Roxas ZN’s Roider Cabrera drilled all of his 10 shots in the tiebreaker round to beat Dehesa for the TM Two-Point Shootout title.
In the TM Slam Dunk Contest, David Carlos reigned supreme anew.