Joshua Munzon and Pasig Chooks saved their best for last, fending off Slovenia’s Kranj, 19-15, to punch the last ticket to the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Manila Challenger playoffs, Saturday.
“It feels good, coming from the Qualifying Draw. Getting three out of four, it was a long day. I’m tired, we are tired. We need to get some rest,” said an exhausted Joshua Munzon, as Pasig needed to carve out two wins in QD B to advance to Pool D.
Wanting to give the hometown crowd something to cheer about, the duo of Munzon and Nikola Pavlovic powered Pasig to a strong 11-5 start.
Cecil Brown and Igor Tratnik then tried to complete the Philippine sweep. They cut the lead down to just two, 15-17, with 35 seconds left.
But Pasig dug deep, locking down on defense. Munzon and Dylan Ababou then knocked down two clutch buckets to pay back their 11-22 loss to the same team back in the Poitiers Challenger last July 6.
“We showed a lot of puso, showed a lot of heart. Troy [Rike – back] and Dylan [Ababou – right shoulder] are hurt but still gave everything they got. That speaks a lot about the character of this team,” expressed Munzon.
Munzon had 10 points in the game built on two deuces, two free throws, and four one-pointers. Meanwhile, Pavlovic had seven points and six boards.
Pasig will then face Lyon in the quarterfinals at 1:10 pm.
In the last two elimination round games, Lyon swept Pool B after a close 15-14 win over Amsterdam, while Gagarin escaped Melbourne, 20-18, to sweep their group as well.
The other quarterfinals brackets in this tournament are Riga vs Melbourne (12:05 pm); Ulaanbaatar vs Antwerp (12:30); and Gagarin vs Humpolec (1:35 pm). The champion will take home USD 15,000 and a ticket to the 2019 Jeddah Masters.
Pasig 19 – Munzon 10, Pavlovic 7, Ababou 1, Rike 1.
Kranj 15 – Brown 6, Tratnik 5, Julević 3, Jersin 1.