|The Bolts celebrate their Leg 2 championship with a selfie. PBA Images|
MANILA--Meralco completed an amazing comeback despite playing undermanned and pulled off a thrilling 18-17 win in overtime against Cavitex to emerge Leg 2 champion of the PBA 3x3 Third Conference on Sunday.
The Bolts lost big man Maclean Sabellina in the early going of the title showdown at the Robinsons Las Pinas after aggravating the injury he suffered in the semifinals earlier, forcing the team to play the rest of the finals behind the trio of Alfred Batino, Joseph Sedurifa, and Dexter Maiquez.
But the Bolts’ power never waned, battling back from a five-point deficit late in regulation to force overtime, before leaning on the game-winning deuce by Maiquez in claiming their third leg title overall under coach Patrick Fran.
“Binuhos na namin. Humugot kami ng lakas sa isa’t isa,” said Maiquez as the team celebrated winning the P100,000 prize money.
Batino and Sedurifa had seven each to show the way for Meralco as the two instigated a late run after trailing 11-16 with 79 seconds to play.
The tough-playing Batino scored on a layup, before Sedurifa hit back-to-back deuces to knot the count at 16 and pave the way for the extra period.
Bong Galanza put Cavitex on the hill by forcing his way inside, 17-16, but Sedurifa countered by bringing the ball outside following a quick pass from Batino and converted the winning basket.
It was actually a long day for the Bolts – playing for the second straight leg without injured Tonino Gonzaga – who saw action in a total of five games, including the two postponed pool assignments last Saturday made possible by the unavailability of the playing court.
The Bolts lost to Platinum Karaoke, 17-13, but won over Zamboanga Valientes, 21-13, to enter the knockout stage. They beat Leg 1 winner TNT Tropang Giga in the first round of the playoffs, 18-17, and then ousted Barangay Ginebra in the semis, 19-15, to book a spot in the finals.
Despite the loss, Cavitex achieved its best finish in the tournament with its runner-up placing worth P50,000. Playing behind a revamped lineup, the Braves made the semis for the first time by knocking out Limitless App in overtime, 21-20, and then proceeding to dismantle Terrafirma, 22-11, to set up the title meet with Meralco.
Prince Rivero finished with seven and Galanza six for the Braves.
Meanwhile, Denice Villamor nailed the game-winner and saved the day for Barangay Ginebra following a 20-19 win over Terrafirma in the battle for third place.
The Kings, who were led by Leo De Vera with nine points, went home with the P30,000 prize money.
Barangay Ginebra (20) – De Vera 9, Gozum 6, Villamor 3, Cabahug 2.
Terrafirma (19) – Alanes 8, Cachuela 7, Taladua 3, Bulawan 1.
Meralco (18) – Batino 7, Sedurifa 7, Maiquez 3, Sabellina 1.
Cavitex (17) – Rivero 7, Galanza 6, Fajardo 3, Rangel 1.
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