GARRI Sevilla finally broke out of a scoring slump and helped power Senate to a 75-60 thumping of Philippine National Police in the rubber match of their semis series as the Defenders earned a shot at becoming the first back-to-back champions of the UNTV Cup.
Sharp and deadly again after his inconsistent showing in the team’s last three games, Sevilla exploded for 24 points as he and Marlon Legaspi starred in a big second quarter attack as Senate pulled away for good, earning the right to face top seed Armed Forces of the Philippines in the finals.
Game One of the best-of-three title series is set on Sunday, with the chosen charity of the champion team earning a tax-free P4 million and the runner-up’s foundation receiving P2 million.
The AFP Cavaliers advanced to the finals with a two-game sweep of the National Housing Authority Builders in the annual tournament organized by UNTV president and CEO Daniel Razon for public servants.
Senate’s win, however, proved costly as Sen. Joel Villanueva suffered a season-ending knee injury after colliding with PNP’s Japeth Cabahug at midcourt.
While the Senate Defenders are looking to become the back-to-back champions, the AFP Cavaliers are bidding to become the first three-time winners of the championship.
The Cavaliers are tied with the Judiciary Magis with two titles each, with the former winning in 2014 and 2016. The Magis won the inaugural event on 2013 and won it again in 2015.
Senate also leaned on air-tight defense to prevail as PNP’s top gunner Ollan Omiping was held to just seven points.
Legaspi delivered on both ends, finishing with 18 points aside from providing the much-needed help in the middle that threw PNP’s big men out of their comfort zone.
That also forced the Responders to try their luck from afar but failed miserably, making only 22 of 74 tries for 29.7 percent against Senate’s 43.5, converting 30 of 69 attempts from the field.
Senate 75 – Sevilla 24, Legaspi 18, Sanders 8, Omega 6, Bolboa 6, Ng 6, Marata 5, Mangaran 2, Villanueva 0.
PNP 78 – Tolentino 12, Decena 12, Misola 10, Omiping 7, Sta. Cruz 6, Serrano 4, Villanueva 4, Criste 3, Saracho 2, Cabahug 0.
Quarterscores: 21-16; 34-29; 56-47; 75-60.