Basilan-Jumbo Plastic Medical Depot guard Philip Manalang drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to give his team a thrilling 83-80 victory over Nueva Ecija and capture the title in the Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Invitational on Thursday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Tied at 80-all with 1.9 seconds left in overtime, Manalang found himself momentarily open at the top of the arc, got the inbound pass, and uncorked a high-looping three-pointer that found the bottom of the net as time expired, giving Basilan the victory, the championship and the P2 million cash prize that came with it.
That three-pointer was Manalang’s only basket of the ballgame but he added six assists and two boards, and was named the Finals MVP.
“For me, the win tonight is God-given,” said Basilan head coach Jerson Cabiltes, who also won the Ato Badolato Coach of the Tournament award.
“So talagang gusto naming makuha ‘to dahil yun nga, nine months ago we were in this situation and hindi kami napagbigyan and then ito pala yung balik na biyaya samin ng Panginoon,” he added.
Byron Villarias hit a huge triple in regulation to put the Rice Vanguards ahead, 74-73, with 26 seconds left. Michael Juico then earned a split on the line to send the game to an extension.
Encho Serrano finished with 15 points and nine rebounds while Juico and Jonathan Uyloan both had 15 markers as well.
Jay Collado scattered 15 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and two blocks while JR Taganas was a force inside the paint with 17 big rebounds to go along with nine points.
On the other hand, tournament MVP Michael Mabulac put up 24 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort for the Rice Vanguards.
Justin Gutang added 13 points, seven boards, and three assists. Renz Palma had 11 points and seven rebounds while Villarias ended with 10 points and four boards.
Nueva Ecija lost a crucial piece in Chris Bitoon, who got injured during the 3:43 in the third quarter.
Basilan topped Pool B with a perfect 4-0 record. Then, the team took out Mindoro-EOG Burlington in the quarterfinals before escaping Pasig in the semis.
The team bagged a total of P2,000,000 from Chooks-to-Go. Jumbo Plastic added P1,000,000 while Medical Depot chipped in P100,000 to the pot.