|Juan Gomez De Liano joins the celebration as the Rice Vanguards clinched a semifinal spot. Chooks-to-Go|
CALAMBA - Jai Reyes' longball over the outstretched arms of Mon Mabayo lifted the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards over Bicol-Paxful 3x3 Pro, 21-19 (8:07), Friday in a down-the-wire duel in the quarterfinals of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Presidents Cup powered by TM.
The deuce by Nueva Ecija's playing team manager punctuated a 5-0 closing kick that powered them through a late three-point deficit and pushed them to the second leg semifinals inside the INSPIRE Sports Academy here.
Bicol was up, 19-16, courtesy of a deep shot by Alwin Alday with under four minutes on the clock before Gab Banal and Mac Sabellina hit back-to-back layups.
It was then Reyes' turn for a layup and then the game-winning longball, the biggest makes in his total of eight points.
Before those heroics, it was Sabellina who gave life to the Rice Vanguards and wound up with eight points as well. "Sinunod lang namin yung game plan namin. Tinrabaho lang namin," said the lanky forward about their game plan to make up for the absence of Juan Gomez de Liano.
Even without their injured 20-year-old playmaker, Nueva Ecija proved it remains a force to reckon with and will now take on Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors who downed Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas-Porac in their quarterfinals matchup, 21-13 (8:15).
Cedrick Ablaza's jumper from the left elbow sealed the deal for Pasig's breakthrough semis appearance.
In the other bracket, Zamboanga City-Family's Brand Sardines and Butuan City-Uling Roasters will meet again in a rematch of the Leg 1 Finals.
Zamboanga City got the better of sister squad Bacolod-Master Sardines, 21-16 (7:42), on the back of Joshua Munzon.
The Philippines' top 3x3 player fired nine points, including the short stab he willed through Alfred Batino to boot out Bacolod.
PH no. 5 Troy Rike and no. 2 Alvin Pasaol flanked Munzon with five and four points, respectively.
On the other hand, Butuan fried the Sarangani Marlins, 21-17 (7:48), with Franky Johnson showing the way.
The dagger for the Uling Roasters came when Johnson just saw a little bit of daylight to make an off-balance two against Pamboy Raymundo.
In the championship round of the first leg last Wednesday, Zamboanga City bested Butuan, 21-17.
In the TM Two-Point Shootout, Roider Cabrera of Pagadian was clutch, knocking down the final ball to hike his score to eight -- a point higher than Dylan Ababou's seven-point outing -- to take home PHP10,000.
The second leg semifinals of the FIBA 3x3-endorsed tournament will keep airing on BEAM TV CH. 31 and streaming on Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Facebook and FIBA 3x3 YouTube.
Besides that, also taking place as of press time is the TM Slam Dunk Competition.
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