Philip Manalang hits buzzer 3, Basilan wins MPBL Invitational title
MANILA, Philippines—It was a fitting ending for a riveting Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational late Thursday.
After missing his first eight shots, Philip Manalang hit the basket that mattered most at the buzzer to lift Basilan Jumbo Plastic Medical Depot past the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, 84-81, in overtime before a loud but ruly crowd at Mall of Asia Arena.
On top of winning the MPBL Invitational title, Basilan also took home the P2 million prize dangled by Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascarinas.
The Rice Vanguards, who had chances to wrap up the tight game marked by 13 ties and 21 lead changes in regulation and even in overtime, settled for the P500,000 runners-up purse.
Byron Villarias canned a triple to put Nueva Ecija ahead, 74-73, with 26 seconds to go before Michael Juico split his charities, and Villarias missed a jumper at the buzzer.
The Rice Vanguards also had possession with 15.4 seconds to go in extension but were unable to execute and turn the ball over to Basilan.
Juico finished with 15 points, same as Uyloan, Encho Serrano, who also posted nine rebounds, and Jay Collado, who added 5 rebounds and 7 assists.
Burly JR Taganas contributed 9 points and a game-high 17 rebounds for Cabiltes, who has steered Basilan to 4 titles in different leagues.
It’s going to be a merry Christmas for the Basilan players as they also stand to receive P1 million from Jumbo Plastics and P100,000 from Medical Depot.
Nueva Ecija, which was hampered by its poor free throw shooting (10 of 23) got 24 points and 11 rebounds from Invitational MVP Michael Mabulac, 13 points and 7 rebounds from Justin Gutang, and 11 points and 7 rebounds from Renz Palma.
Pasig Sta. Lucia dumped Imus Buracai de Laiya, 100-80, in the afternoon to clinch third place and earn P200,000 in the 22-team, 13-day tournament initiated by Mascarinas and league founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao to reignite the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.