SEA Lions rode on the heroics of former PBA player Egay Billones to bring down Wang’s Ballclub, 84-79, in thriller and capture the 2014 MBL Open basketball championship at the Rizal Coliseum.
Billones willed Sea Lions to the come-from-behind victory, scoring 13 of his game-high 30 points during a game-changing run in the fourth quarter of the tournament sponsored by Smart Sports, Ironcon Builders, Dickies Underwear, PRC Couriers and Zucchero Cafe.
The 38-year-old Billones struck with seven unanswered points - a drive, two free throws and a three-pointer - in a two-minute span that shattered the game’s last deadlock at 71-all and put the Sea Lions ahead for good, 78-71, entering the final two minutes.
He was later named tournament MVP.
Mark Montuano completed a three-point play and Erwin Sta. Maria hit a difficult three-point shot from the deep left corner to pull Wang's within 79-82 with still 27.5 seconds remaining.
But Ricky Ricafuente hit two pressure-packed free throws for Sea Lions and JM Ferrer missed two desperation three-point attempts for Wang’s in the final seconds.
“Winning the MBL (title) and joining its roster of champions in the last 14 years is really a major achievement for our team,” said Sea Lions playing coach Jemuel Laron, whose team went 7-1 in the tournament.
Sea Lions also defeated Wang’s Ballcub, 81-80, on a buzzer-beating triple by Billones in their only other meeting in the eliminations.
Sea Lions (84) - Billones 30, Zagala 16, Brown 6, Panares 6, Siruma 5, Ricafuente 4, Bautista 4, Sta. Cruz 4, Mangaran 3, Aqualiful 2, Santiago 2, Junio 2., Santos 0, Villaruel 0.
Wang’s Ballclub (79) - Resopa 17, Sta. Maria 16, Montuano 16, Cuevas 9, Asoro 5, Ferrer 5, Ingco 4, Reyes 3, Acuna 2, Berre 2, Castro 0, Camacho 0, Pabillano 0, Sanchez 0.
Quarterscores: 19-20, 36-38, 57-59, 84-79.