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Pola Pilipinas RPG players and officials pose with Passi Mayor Stephen Palmares after winning the second leg of The Asian Tournament in Passi City on Monday

Basketball

Pola Pilipinas RPG bounces back from winless Leg 1, sweeps TAT’s Passi Leg


Pola Pilipinas RPG picked up the pieces from its winless campaign in the opening leg of the Asian Tournament to triumph in the Passi edition with a pulsating 72-69 victory over the Taiwan Mustangs on Monday.

Jayvee Dela Cruz nailed a clutch triple off a nice kick-out pass from Jose Nouchanthavong, giving the Philippine representatives a 70-66 lead with 47.5 seconds left – much to the delight of the jam-packed crowd inside the City of Passi Arena.

Nouchanthavong led the way for Pola Pilipinas with 18 points, including two pressure-packed free throws that kept the pesky Taiwan Mustangs at bay in the waning seconds.

He was amply supported by Xavier Alexander, who posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Henry Iloka and Joseph Obasa added 12 points each.

The dramatic finish fittingly concluded Pola Pilipinas’ splendid run in the second leg, where they went unbeaten through five games after not winning a single game in the first leg in Guangdong.

With the success of the tournament, Passi Mayor Stephen Palmares is looking forward to more legs in the city, saying: “We are honored to host the very first leg of TAT in the country. It was worth it because TAT gave my constituents great entertainment.”

Pola swept its three games in the elimination round before taking down Zamboanga Valientes, 82-57, in the semifinals.

The second-leg title should also give Pola Pilipinas, owned by RJ Martinez and supported by Pola Mayor Jennifer M. Cruz, all the confidence and momentum heading into the third leg on their own turf in Mindoro.

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TAT Executive Director Jacque Ruby, on the other hand, was grateful for the overwhelming support from the fans and the local government of Passi City, which warmly welcomed the league.

“We are thankful and very appreciative of the support of the people of Passi City and its local government. We love the energy of the crowd, and they have been very supportive since the start of the tournament here,” said Ruby.

“We are looking forward to bringing more of these exciting and thrilling games as we go on with the third leg in Polo, Mindoro,” he added.

With their spotless run in the second leg, Pola Pilipinas moved up to the middle pack of the overall standings with an even 5-5 record.

Leg 1 winner Macau Black Bears still hold the top spot with a 7-3 slate, while the Vanta Black Dragons and Taiwan Mustangs sit in the second and third spots with 6-4 and 6-3 records, respectively.

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