CALAMBA, LAGUNA — Down to just two just players in Jai Reyes and Gab Banal, Nueva Ecija was still able to gut out a 21-19 (6:41) win over Bacolod-Masters Sardines to sweep Pool D of 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas President’s Cup powered by TM, Wednesday evening.
The Rice Vanguards lost Juan Gomez de Liaño with 5:15 left in the game after spraining his right ankle after landing on Chris Lalata’s foot. He did not return to the game.
On the other hand, big man Mac Sabellina was thrown out of the contest after being assessed his second unsportmanlike foul with 4:10 remaining.
Down 17-19 after back-to-back triples by Anton Asistio, Banal and Reyes used their wits to rack up the win.
After Reyes connected on a free throw that sliced the lead down to one, Banal threw a wild triple that clearly missed. The MPBL Datu Cup MVP and national team player was able to swoop in for the rebound, throw a putback, and get a foul against Alfred Batino for the and-two and the victory.
“Got nothing to lose. We only had two players, but I don’t know if that’s even possible? That might be the first time in 3×3 history,” said Banal, who ended up with four points.
Reyes also had four points.
Batino was cut open with 3:33 into the contest after diving into the elbow of Banal.
Nueva Ecija will next face Pasig-Sta. Lucia in the knockout quarter for this leg that has P100,000 waiting for the winner.
“If Juan can’t play, that’s a big loss for us. Ganiyan ang Nueva Ecija, but the whole Chooks team, hindi tayo magpapatalo,” said Banal about the possibility of not having Gomez de Liaño in the playoffs games, which are happening as of publishing.
Earlier, Family’s Brand Sardines-Zamboanga City Chooks and Uling Roasters-Butuan City swept Pools A and B respectively in this FIBA 3×3-endorsed tournament.
Joshua Munzon scored nine points as Zamboanga City averted disaster against the Sarangani Marlins 22-19 (7:17).
Meanwhile, Franky Johnson had five deuces for 10 points. He powered Butuan City to a 21-13 (7:02) wipeout of Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors.
Zamboanga City faces Big Boss Cement-Porac in the quarters, while Butuan City takes on Bacolod.
Porac was able to advance to the next round after a 21-14 triumph over Bicol-PAXFUL 3×3 Pro. Big man James Laput proved his worth in the contest with five points.