KIEFER Ravena came away with 20 points, including 11 in the fourth period alone, as Malolos Mighty defeated Hobe Macway Travel, 85-82, on Thursday night in a thrilling Republica Cup championship game at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center.
The former Ateneo star capped a 7-0 run with a triple that opened an 81-77 lead with 1:16 left in the fourth and put Mighty on course for its third title in the four editions of the annual tournament that formed part of the celebration of the founding of the Malolos Republic.
Mark Bringas and tournament MVP Bright Akhuetie had 13 points each for the Malolos Mighty, a team made up of amateur and ex-pro standouts which avenged its only loss in the tournament at the hands of Hobe Macway Travel in the preliminaries.
“Good problem (to have) kasi marami kang stars diyan but it’s how you put them together para maglaro as one. We just played defense kasi grabe rin ang scoring ng kalaban. Nag-respond naman ‘yung mga bata,” said Malolos Mighty coach Mike Fermin.
“Mga stars sila in their own right but they take pride in playing defense. Nakakatuwa,” said Fermin.
Shooster Olago tallied 24 points while Mac Belo and ex-PBA cager Sunday Salvacion chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Hobe Macway Travel, which failed to sustain a strong 21-10 start in the first period.
Led by Bringas and Akhuetie, Malolos Mighty went on a 17-2 run in the second quarter to make the game close. Akhuetie also put Malolos ahead, 51-42, but Hobe responded and even took a 77-74 lead, setting up for the exciting finish.
After the Ravena-led run in the fourth, Hobe’s Eric Dela Cuesta hit a triple to close the gap, 81-80, with 1:01 left only for Ravena and Mark Macapagal to hit free throws in the dying seconds at the end of the tournament organized by Malolos mayor Christian Natividad and city sports director Toti Villanueva.