Clark Torrente beat the buzzer with a Hail Mary and the Senate Defenders kept their unblemished record intact with a pulsating 53-52 win over the defending champions DENR Warriors in the 9th UNTV Cup on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Novadeci Convention Center in Quezon City.
Given just 2.27 seconds to either send the game into overtime or win it outright with a 3-point shot after their initial play was foiled, Torrente made a daring decision and proved successful.
His banked shot – his first game-winning basket in a tournament and his only field goal in the game – sparked a frenzied celebration from the Senate supporters while leaving the DENR Warriors scratching their heads in disbelief.
The win extended Senate’s winning run in the tournament for public servants to four in Group B as the Defenders also drew 16 points from Lawrence Gasparilo and 14 from Harry Petilos.
In other Group B match, the NHA Home Masters likewise posted their fourth straight win in five games with a 108-83 win over the SSS Kabalikat while the OP-PMS Trailblazers kept their second-round bid alive by trouncing the Dept. of Agriculture Food Masters, 109-93.
Alvin Vitug put on another scoring clinic for the Home Masters of coach Bennett Palar by scattering 27 points to go with his 3 steals, 2 assists, and 3 boards.
In notching their second win in four starts, the Trailblazers relied heavily on the hot hands of Jhon Kenneth Aljard, who erupted for 33 points.
With their defeats, SSS and Dept. of Agriculture were the first to be eliminated in the 12-tournament offering P3 million of the chosen charity of the champion team.