ALCANTARA, CEBU – Underdogs KCS Computer Specialist-Mandaue completed its Cinderella run, stunning top seed MJAS Zenith-Talisay in the winner-take-all game of the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup-Visayas Leg, 89-75, Sunday at the Civic Center here.
Outcoached and outhustled were the Aquastars in the series after entering the Finals unbeaten.
KCS-Mandaue shocked MJAS-Talisay in Game One last Friday, 67-66, before the Aquastars were able to extend the series, 63-56, a day later. All three games that were played in three days were all defensive masterpieces by KCS head coach Mike Reyes — even their Game Two loss.
“I got to win the hearts of the players. That‘s why they played so hard because I think I was able to capture it,” shared Reyes.
Down by seven early in the third canto, KCS turned the tables on their heavily-favored opponents, uncorking an incredible 18-1 run capped by a three-pointer by Shaquille Imperial that gave them a 54-44 lead. Bernie Bregondo sparked the turnaround with six straight points inside.
Al Francis Tamsi, Red Cachuela, and Michole Sorela, and Ping Exciminiano then got in on the act, with the latter draining a triple at the third period buzzer to put KCS in front by 11, 61-50, heading to the final canto.
KCS then poured it on in the fourth with diminutive guard Gileant Delator, at one point, scoring eight straight to give them an 81-64 lead. Sorela then drilled in a long three-pointer and a baseline jumper to give KCS their biggest lead of the game at 22, 88-66.
Conversely, the Aquastars just could not get anything going with sixth man Darrell Menina getting ejected from the game after incurring a flagrant foul on Delator with 5:17 left in the game.
“I told them, ‘let’s try to make history. Let’s give them forty minutes of hell!‘” said Reyes.
KCS’ championship run was made even more remarkable by the fact that it came at the expense of Talisay City—a team that went unbeaten in the 10-game elimination round which included a pair of wins over Mandaue, where they won by an average of 14.0 points.
Ping Exciminiano, who was named as the Finals MVP, led KCS with 15 points, five rebounds, an assist, and three steals. The 32-year-old defensive specialist out of Olongapo City averaged 13.0 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.0 steals in the three-game series.
“Sobrang blessed ako, after all na nangyari sa akin, nagka-injury at Achilles injury, nagpapasalamat ako na napunta ako sa ganitong situwasyon,” said Exciminiano.
Sorela and Tamsi added 12 markers apiece with the former hauling down eight boards while Delator and Imperial chipped in 10 markers apiece.
And that they did as they kept Talisay’s team captain, Paulo Hubalde, in check all game long. Hubalde managed just four points and committed a whopping five turnovers. Season MVP Jaymar Gimpayan finished with 12 points, most of which came when the result was hardly in doubt.
Patrick Cabahug led the Aquastars with 21 points.
KCS-Mandaue will represent Visayas in the Grand Finals of the league this August in Tubod, Lanao Del Norte while also pocketing P500,000 courtesy of Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas.
MJAS-Talisay, on the other hand, was given P100,000, also by Chooks-to-Go.
KCS-Mandaue 89 – Exciminiano 15, Tamsi 12, Sorela 12, Imperial 10, Delator 10, Bregondo 8, Mendoza 8, Roncal 4, Soliva 4, Cachuela 2, Bonganciso 2, Octobre 2, Nalos 0, Castro 0.
MJAS-Talisay 75 – Cabahug 21, Gimpayan 12, Menina 9, Villafranca 8, Jamon 7, Mojica 6, Hubalde 4, Acuna 3, Santos 2, Eguilos 2, Casajeros 1, Mabigat 0, Dela Cerna 0.
Quarterscores: 16-19, 34-39, 61-50, 89-75.