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Smart Sports Scribes win PSA Cup title

The Smart Sports Scribes ruled the PSA Cup. Angelica Castro/PSA
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA--The Smart Sports Scribes leaned on their smothering defense to stifle the Capital1 Solar Boys, 49-32, rising as champions of the 2024 Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Cup at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium on Monday night.

A much larger margin than the two teams' first two matchups where they split their victories in close fashion, the Sports Scribes took the winner-take-all contest in a wire-to-wire affair.

Following a low-scoring opening frame which saw Smart go ahead, 12-7, the team outscored the Solar Boys in the next 10 minutes, 18-5, to rip the contest wide open by intermission after a buzzer-beating undergoal stab by Dugout Philippines' Ivan Saldajeno, 30-12.

The story remained the same in the third period, where the team backed by Danny Espiritu, Headstart Sports Academy, and BaliPure kept their opponents at bay by making timely shots at every juncture.

SPIN.ph's editor-in-chief Dodo Catacutan extended the lead to 20, 41-21, as he successfully scored before the period expired.

With a relentless pursuit to come back, the Solar Boys managed to bridge the gap to 16 before Jeremiah Sevilla knocked down some jumpers to maintain distance.

Reuben Terrado of Spin.ph was hailed as Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) after a 12-point, 11-rebound performance, while Cignal's AJ Bolando had 13 markers, eight boards, and five assists.

Despite just scoring three, UAAP Varsity Channel's Julio Sampedro collared eight caroms and stole thrice.

Christian Jacinto and Bryan Ulanday knocked down 10 points apiece, while Aldo AviƱante had eight for the team supported by Capital1 owners Mandy and Milka Romero, Bulakan Mayor Vergel Meneses, Uratex, and Rebel Sports. 

Meanwhile, the Strong Group Athletics Press Row Bros secured their first victory of the tournament after downing the Say Chiz Smileys in the third-place game which needed overtime, 82-81.

Leading by as many as 17, 45-28, during the early goings of the third, the Smileys managed to chip away at the lead, even going ahead, 72-70, after a layup by Cedelf Tupas with 47.2 seconds left in regulation.

SGA's Eugene Flores forced five more minutes by scoring a game-tying layup but missed the go-ahead bonus free throw at the 12.0 mark.

During the extra period, Flores took over down the stretch, scoring all 10 points for the Press Row Bros.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer's Jonas Terrado had a crack at forcing second overtime with 1.9 left but split on his charities for the final tally.

Flores of One Sports fired 30 points, while Diego de la Paz and Karlo Sacamos chipped in 18 points each.

Lopez, on the other hand, paced Say Chiz's offense with 24, Tupas added 23, and Terrado poured in 20.

During a pre-game ceremony attended by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Dy, the league named its individual awardees led by MVP Jonas Terrado, who averaged 19.3 points, 15.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.8 steals, and 1.5 blocks during the eliminations.

He was joined in the Mythical Five by Bolando, AviƱante, Lopez, and Jacinto.

Meanwhile, Flores was recognized as the league's top rookie after norming 23.6 points, 5.4 boards, and 4.8 assists.

Rappler's Delfin Dioquino was awarded as the tournament's top defensive player after hauling in 13.3 boards, and a league-best 3.7 steals.

Reuben Terrado was hailed as the inaugural Joe Antonio Sportsmanship awardee, named after the late, great longtime editor of the People's Journal.

PSA President Nelson Beltran of Smart was also recognized as the best senior player, providing a steady hand and valuable leadership to the eventual champion.

Shakey's and ACES also provided a huge amount of food by sending in several boxes of their signature pizza to the scores of spectators.

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