IT will be defending champion FEU-NRMF-Gerry's Grill vs Colegio de San Lorenzo-V Hotel in the championship of the 2017 MBL Open.basketball tournanent.
FEU-NRMF averted another major meltdown to subdue Diliman College-JPA Freight Logistics, 82-76, while CdSL-V Hotel completed a stunning reversal against Philippine Christian University, 95-83, to set up a winner-take-all title showdown at the FEU-NRMF gym in Fairview.
Christian Manalo and import Moustapha Arafat provided the endgame heroics for the Tamaraws, who squandered several double-digit leads in the first half and fell behind by 10 points before recovering in time to escape with the win.
Manalo scored 10 of his team-high 16 points during a see-saw battle in the fourth quarter while Arafat scored the team's last five points - a three-point play off a foul by Diliman counterpart Alex Diakhite and two pressure-packed free throws - to seal the win for the Tamaraws.
Jhaps Bautista also finished with 16 points and ex-PBA star Jerwin Gaco added 13 points for FEU-NRMF, which blew a huge 20-point lead and lost to Diliman, 84-90, in their semis game last Tuesday.
Last year's MBL MVP Clay Crellin contributed nine points, six in the fourth quarter.
Diakhite, Diliman's "Tower of Power" who led the league in scoring during the elimination round, topscored with 20 points while being matched against Arafat and former UST center Kareem Abdul.
CdSL-V Hotel rode on the combined 42- point production of Argie Baldevia and import Soulenane Chabi Yo to beat PCU for the second time in three days and earn a championship ticket in its first MBL appearance.
CdSL-V Hotel (95) -- Baldevia 24, Chabi Yo 18, Formento 12, Laman 11, Castanares 9, Allano 7, Gabriel 4, Vargas 4, Rosas 4, Borja 2.
PCU (83) -- Tambeling 17, Sazon 17, Apreku 11, Mescallado 11, Saldua 10, Manalo 8, Castro 5, Ayonayon 2, Vasquez 2, Camaya 0, Galit 0, Bautista 0, Palattao 0.
Quarterscores: 23-19, 47-37, 72-60, 95-83.
FEU-NRMF-Gerry's Grill (82) -- Manalo 16, Bautista 16, Gaco 13, Arafat 13, Crellin 9, Santos 5, Abdul 4, Sta. Maria 3, Morales 3, Raymundo 0, Tan 0, Gumabay 0.
Diliman-JPA (76) -- Diakhite 20, Torrado 14, Brutas 13, Enriquez 12, Salazar 4, Ligon 4, Corpuz 3, Sombero 2, Antalan 2, Cuerquez 1, Tay 1.
Quarterscores: 20-8, 40-29, 55-60, 82-76.