Cyrus Tabi and Prince Allan Liquinan scored the game’s last five points as South champion Mandaluyong brought down North titleholder Quezon City, 69-68, to capture the overall title in the 24-year-olds-and-under tournament on Wednesday at the JRU gym in Shaw Blvd. in their home city.
Tabi completed a three-point play with 55 seconds left and Liquinan hit a short lay-up with 24 seconds remaining as the Tigers erased a 64-68 deficit to complete a two-game sweep of the Stars in the best-of-three title series of the tournament organized by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) thru the Metro Manila Sportsfest and supported by the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
With the win, the Johnedel Cardel-mentored Tigers also completed a perfect tournament by winning all their 10 games— six in the classification round, one in the division semis against Pateros, one in the division final against MMDA and two in the grand finals against Quezon City— in the two-and-half-month tourney which has Mobile App ng Bayan Barangay 143 as presentor, my|phone “Bida ang Pinoy” as official mobile phone, Spalding as official ball, and Synergy 88, San Miguel Corp., World Balance, Higer Bus and One World Music and Sports Inc. as major sponsors.
“We’re very happy to win the title. The boys deserved it,” said Cardel, who was ably assisted by Albert Olaya.
“Our players really didn’t want a Game 3 anymore so they refused to give up even when we were down by four in the endgame. Icing on the cake na lang talaga yung sweep,” added Cardel, who was also joined in the awarding ceremony after the game by Mandaluyong Sports Development head Noel “Big Daddy” Bernardo, Jimmy Isidro of the Mandaluyong City Mayor’s office and other Tigers supporters and fans in the MBT game that was held for the first time in their home turf.
MBT commissioner and PBA legend Pido Jarencio, tournament director Bonnie Tan, Synergy 888 managing director Jackielyn Chua, Proline Sports Center (Spalding exclusive distributor) Vice President Joven Babaan and my|phone marketing executive Lanie Montano awarded the championship and runner-up trophies along with a couple of player awards right after the nip-and-tuck game that had 17 lead changes and 11 deadlocks and with no team leading by more than seven points.
Tabi finished with a team-high 16 points, which came with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. He was awarded Most Valuable Player honors of the tourney which is also supported by Excellent Noodles, Nature’s Spring Water, 1-Pacman Partylist, Hopewell Sales Corp., Star Bread, Frabelle Foods, Regan Industrial Sales, Inc., Glitter.ph, Alcoplus and Archie’s Bespoke Bar + Grill.
Also key for the Tigers was All-Star Game MVP Sandy Ceñal who had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds while Jonathan Boholano did the same with his 11 markers and 14 boards. Liquinan added 10 points, capped by the game-winning layup with 24 seconds left on an assist by Jaime Senires.
Tabi was joined in the Mythical Five by Ceñal and Liquinan, and Quezon City standouts Jefferson Comia and Mikhael Justin Salazar, the All-Star Game Obstacle Challenge champion.
Mandaluyong (69) — Tabi 16, Cenal 12, Boholano 11, Liquinan 10, Senires 10, Manalac 7, Dada 2, Reyes1, Tilos 0.
Quezon City (68) — Estoce 22, Comia 12, Cortez 8, Salazar 7, Udjan 6, Asuncion 4, Mahari 3, Antipuesto 2, Barraquias 2, Padigdig 2, Villacorta 0, Nebre 0.
Quarterscores: 14-13, 41-41, 56-55, 69-68.