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Basilan rules MPBL Invitational on Philip Manalang buzzer-beater

The Steel celebrate after winning the MPBL Invitational championship. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Philip Manalang was held to just three points in the championship game of the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational.

Those points, however, were worth PHP2 million.

Manalang's only points in the game won it for Basilan as the team edged Nueva Ecija in overtime, 83-80, in the final of the league's first tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Manalang found himself wide open off his screen for Jaymar Gimpayan, and Michael Juico gave his inbound pass to Manalang for the go-ahead trey right at the final buzzer.

The shot was enough to name him, who also had two rebounds and six assists, the Finals MVP.

The win capped a huge turnaround for the Steel franchise, which started 2021 on a sad note after they were barred from playing Game 3 of the long-postponed Southern Division Finals against Davao Occidental due to positive COVID-19 cases inside the Subic bubble.

Basilan bounced back with a bang later in the year, first by becoming the inaugural Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup championship before ruling the inaugural FilBasket season also inside a bubble in Olongapo as AICC Manila.

Encho Serrano, Jay Collado, Michael Juico, and Jonathan Uyloan each scored 15 points for Basilan, which won PHP2 million for ruling the pre-Christmas event.

Tournament MVP Michael Mabulac led Nueva Ecija, which settled for a PHP500,000 runner-up prize, with 24 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, and one steal.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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