True to their name, Team Hustle out-worked Team Heart, 94-86, in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC All-Star Game presented by SM, Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Team Hustle got their much-needed veteran presence in the endgame from UST’s Mark Nonoy, who hit 16 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, and FEU’s RJ Abarrientos, who got 13 markers and eight rebounds.
The 5-foot-8 playmaker Nonoy turned it on when it mattered most, scoring 14 straight points in the last four minutes of the showpiece event of the national championship for high school.
“Iba yung feeling kasi dati, pangarap ko lang makalaro sa ganitong arena, tapos ngayon, na-award pa ako ng Most Outstanding Player,” he said about his inspired play. “Malaking tulong para sakin na mag-strive pa sa basketball kasi ito na yung buhay namin.”
With the game neck-and-neck midway through the payoff period, Nonoy began his brilliant takeover with a go-ahead triple at the 4:09 mark for the 80-78 lead.
After Kai Ballungay’s layup knotted the game at 80-all, the Tiger Cub turned Growling Tiger then went ahead and scored nine straight, ending with a booming triple for an 89-82 lead with 37 ticks left.
Green got a dunk right after, but it was too little, too late as Abarrientos sealed the deal with two free throws.
San Beda Tony Ynot was a per-minute beast for Team Hustle, dropping nine points in just six minutes while JRU’s John Amores chipped in eight points.
“Guys just keep getting better and better from last year to this year,” said Team Hustle head coach Chris Gavina. “Great seeing the development of our youth. Philippine basketball is in good hands with these kids coming up.”
Team Hustle, which also had San Miguel star Alex Cabagnot, got huge contributions as well from Ateneo’s Kai Sotto, Geo Chiu and Forthsky Padrigao; UST’s Bismarck Lina; FilAm Sports’ Brandon Wilson; Mapua’s Jonnel Policarpio; AusPinoy’s Jasper Rentoy; Durham Crossover’s Tyler Garcia; and National U’s star trio of Kevin Quiambao, Terrence Fortea, and Gerry Abadiano.
For Team Heart, FilAm Sports standout Jalen Green showed the way with 19 points and 12 rebounds while Ballungay followed suit with 16 points and five rebounds.
National U big man Carl Tamayo also added 11 points and six rebounds while La Salle Green Hills Inand Fornilos fired nine points on a perfect 4-of-4 clip.
Team Heart, mentored by Charles Tiu and NBA champion Metta World Peace, was boosted by FilAm Sports’ Jeron Artest; Mapua’s Dan Arches and Paolo Hernandez; Arellano’s Aaron Fermin; Joshua David of LSGH; Hope Christian’s Harvey Pagsanjan; Lyceum’s Mac Guadana’ UV Joshua Yerro; Chiang Kai Shek’s Rafael Go; and Adamson’s Joem Sabandal and Adam Doria.
The week-long festivities will culminate in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC League National Finals championship game between NU-Manila and LSGH-Mandaluyong. That showdown is still free of admission, with fans only needing to present a valid ID to enter the venue.
The last day of the week-long tournament will still be aired live on ESPN5 and streamed live over at tv5.espn.com.
The tournament is backed by Chooks-to-Go, Darlington-Exped Socks, EPSON, Huawei, Freego, Purefoods, Gatorade, Go for Gold, SM, Molten and also presented by 5 Plus and Lighthouse Events.
Hustle 94 — Nonoy 23, Abarrientos 13, Ynot 9, Amores 8, Sotto 6, Quiambao 6, Fortea 5, Lina 5, Wilson 5, Chiu 4, Abadiano 4, Padrigao 3, Policarpio 3, Rentoy 0, Garcia 0.
Heart 86 — Green 19, Ballungay 16, Tamayo 11, Fornilos 9, Arches 6, Fermin 6, David 5, Pagsanjan 4, Guadana 3, Artest 2, Yerro 2, Cagulangan 2, Hernandez 1, Sabandal 0, Doria 0, Go 0.
Quarterscores: 18-19, 45-38, 66-61, 94-86.