Pioneer has never ruled a PBA 3×3 leg. Ever.
But on Wednesday night, it became the king of kings.
The Pro Tibay emerged as the Second Conference’s grand champions following a tight 12-10 victory over Sista, completing a magical run witnessed by its spirited supporters at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
“Effort lang talaga,” said head coach Lester Del Rosario, who dedicated the triumph to his late father, legendary mentor Aric. “Gusto nila e. Hopefully, magtuloy-tuloy. Yung mga bata, puso nila, wala na ‘kong masasabi.”
Gian Abrigo and Christian Rivera finished with four points apiece. Robin Rono and Carlo Escalambre supplied two each for Pioneer, who bagged home the P750,000 top prize by ruling the Level 5 FIBA 3×3 Event.
“Alam niyo maganda? Para kaming magkakapatid. Sa ibang teams ko, sisigawan ko ‘yan. Pero ngayon, wala. Talo, talo. Panalo, bawi. Ganun lang,” said Del Rosario, who’s been handling the crew right from the start.
The Pro Tibay took control of the match early on following a 9-4 start, but faced a big challenge in the final minutes when Jan Jamon and JJ Manlangit connived to help the Super Sealers cut the gap to two with 24.2 seconds left.
Sista, however, could not come any closer, no thanks to their foes’ pesky defense coupled by solid rebounding. Manlangit tried one from deep to tie but missed, and Abrigo hauled it down as time expired to seal the win.
Pioneer scored sweet payback as well to its adhesive rivals. It could be remembered that the guest team bowed to the Super Sealers in the Leg 3 final during the First Conference, 21-13, last November — in the same venue.
The championship also proved that the Pro Tibay’s triumph earlier in the day was no fluke, where it overthrew reigning grand champs Limitless App in the quarterfinals, 16-14, thanks to an Abrigo deuce in overtime.
“Defending champion ‘yun e … Hindi madali. Alam kong hindi ibibigay sa atin ‘yan kung hindi natin gugustuhin. ‘Pag humiling tayo sa taas, ‘di naman NIya ibibigay sa atin ng ganun lang. So paghihirapan namin,” said Del Rosario.
Jamon led Sista with six points in the loss.
Manlangit finished with two points, while Kenneth Mocon and Jamil Gabawan scored a point each for the team owned by Rain or Shine, who still took home Php 250,000 for the runner-up finish.
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra conquered TNT through a 21-16 decision to secure a third-place finish in the grand finale.
Jollo Go led the way with 11 points, as Jayson David and Dennice Villamor combined for nine points for the Gin Kings, who also won Php 100,000.
Almond Vosotros, the Second Conference’s scoring king, led the Tropang Giga with eight points. Samboy De Leon added five markers.
Pioneer 12 – Abrigo 4, Rivera 4, Rono 2, Escalambre 2.
Sista 10 – Jamon 6, Manlangit 2, Gabawan 1, Mocon 1.
Battle for third
Ginebra 21 – Go 11, David 5, Villamor 4, Serrano 1.
TNT 16 – Vosotros 8, De Leon 5, Javier 2, Acuno 1.