Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) completed its own Cinderella story, sweeping Armed Forces of the Philippines in their best-of-three title series to win the 8th UNTV Cup before a huge crowd Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The high-scoring duo of Ed Rivera and Ralph Lansang produced huge numbers once again as the DENR Warriors withstood the AFP Cavaliers’ repeated rallies to prevail in Game 2, 99-91, and become the first newcomer to win the tournament for public servants since the Judiciary won the inaugural event eight years ago.
In a follow-up to his 15-point performance in the team’s 90-73 win in the opener on March 1, Rivera fired 24 points, including 12 in the payoff period, to emerge as the Finals MVP.
He got able support from Lansang and Ryan Abanes who drilled in 22 and 20 points, respectively. Former Letran star Boyet Bautista led AFP with 29 points.
For winning the title against a team looking to become the first-to-back champion of the league, the Warriors’ chosen charity – the Environmental Heroes Foundation Incorporated – won a tax-free P4 million top prize from UNTV headed by Dr. Daniel S. Razon.
AFP Educational Benefits System Office, the charity of AFP, got P2 million while NHA’s Provident Fund Association Inc, got P1 million for finishing third in the annual event sponsored by Bro. Eli Soriano of Ang Dating Daan and Members Church of God International.
Meantime, the PITC Global Traders won the 3×3 side event after beating the PhilHealth Plus, thus rewarding their chosen charity the P100,000 top prize
A total of P10 million was distributed to various institutions with the 5th to 12th placers giving P100,000 each to their charities.
Sharing the limelight with the Warriors was NHA’s Marvin Mercado who emerged as the season’s MVP aside from winning the Defensive Player award. He also led the Mythical Selection that included AFP’s Darwin Cordero, PhilHealth’s Jonathan Aldave, DENR’s Melvin Bangal, and Judiciary’s Chester Tolomia.
Aldave, a teammate of Bautista at Letran, also took the Scoring Champion award.
DENR 99 – Rivera 24, Lansang 22, Abanes 20, Gamboa 11, Parreño 6, Atablanco 5, Ayson 5, Bangal 4, Mamac 2.
AFP 91 – Bautista 29, Almerol 17, Lumongsod 15, Cordero 11, Pascual 7, Tan 7, Sergio 3, Araneta 2.
Quarterscores: 20-13, 49-34, 73-67, 99-91.