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Franky Johnson’s 36-Point explosion propels Zamboanga to cusp of first-ever TAT final


Zamboanga routed Vantablack, 106-97, to move on the cusp of clinching its first-ever leg final appearance in The Asian Tournament, last Thursday at the Sentrong Pangkabataan in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

Former PBA standout Franky Johnson came up big in the crucial match, dropping 36 points built on eight three-pointers to go along with seven assists to power the Valientes to a 3-1 record in the third leg.

Zamboanga, backed by Col. Ariel Querubin, Mayor John Dalipe, Cong. Mannix Dalipe, Cong. Khymer Olaso, and PeekUp CEO Dave Almarinez, must win its final elimination match against the Macau Black Bears on Saturday, 6:00 p.m. to make it to the finale.

“I am very thankful to our fellow Zamboangueños for always supporting the team through its ups and downs,” said Zamboanga Valientes team owner Junie Navarro.

“It was a tough stretch, but the Lord guided us. Now, after experiencing setbacks in the past two legs, we are now one step closer to reaching our ultimate goal of making it to the finals. Muchas Gracias, Zamboanga City! Isa na lang!”

Job Alcantara led the Valientes’ strong start, which saw him drill a one-handed shot off the buzzer which gave the team a 29-17 lead entering the second quarter.

Zamboanga maintained its distance and never looked back, with Alcantara eventually delivering the dagger three from way beyond the arc to put the Philippine-based squad ahead by 17 points with 2:53 left in the game.

Homegrown standout Alcantara finished the game with 17 points on 50-percent shooting, six assists, and three steals for the Valientes, which is also supported by Cocogen, JT Sports, Banat, MLV, and Go for Gold, while fellow Zamboangueño Peter Alfaro nailed 16 points on top of eight assists and five rebounds.

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“Incredibly proud of the team. Also very proud and thankful to the management for helping us get through these elimination games. I’m very happy to see that the team is finally getting the chemistry we needed for this tough stretch,” said Alfaro.

“I’m also proud that all my sacrifices and extra work on my own showed in our games this leg. But we have a bigger goal at hand which is the championship, so with God’s grace and our system slowly improving, I hope we can win it for the people of Zamboanga,” he added.

Mike Tolomia, who hails from Zamboanga as well, missed the win over Vantablack but starred in their previous wins over the Jambo Warriors and the Aces, and even in their heartbreaking loss to Pola RPG.

Usman Rasool and Derek Wei King led the Dragons, who only fielded five players, with 38 and 30 points, respectively.

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