LETRAN-Manila and Durham Crossover-Toronto earned the first tickets to the Fantastic 8 of the Division 1 in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC League National Finals presented by SM on Wednesday at SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The eighth-seeded Squires opened Day Three with a big 60-57 come-from-behind win over No. 9 Hope Christian-Manila behind the efforts of John Tabajen whose relentless effort allowed them to fight back from a 12-point first half deficit.
Tabajen's putback in the final minute sealed the victory as he finished with a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Andrei Romenez topped Letran with 14 points and three rebounds, CJ Saure got 13 points and 12 boards, and Shawn Umali scored 10 points and hauled down 16 rebounds.
It was a tough defeat for the Soldiers who lost four-time NBTC All-Star and top gun Harvey Pagsanjan with three minutes remaining after his second unsportsmanlike foul, ending his day with a statline of 19 points and five rebounds.
Durham Crossover, meanwhile, progressed to the Fantastic 8 with a 109-75 trouncing of Sta. Clarita International-Iloilo to end the 26-seed's Cinderella run.
Tyler Garcia poured 32 points for 10th seed Toronto as Marc Casilla added 17 points and seven rebounds.
Meanwhile, at Palm Coast Marina, Sto. Domingo National HS-Legazpi held off Narvacan National HS-Candon, 72-62, even as First City Providential College-Bulacan blasted University of San Jose-Recoletos-Cebu, 75-50, to be the first teams to advance to the Division 2 Fantastic 8.
Medwin Ariate poured in 17 points, John Nagar got 16 points as JD Areno had 15 points and nine rebounds for Legazpi.
Neil Moralejo, on the other hand, starred for FCPC -Bulacan with his all-around effort of 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Theo Pablico also added 15 points, as John Bravo got 12 points, 16 boards and three dimes.
Big matchups are still in slate at SM Mall of Asia Arena, with the Jalen Green-led FilAm Sports-USA taking on Kai Sotto and Ateneo-Quezon City serving as the marquee matchup at 5 p.m.
UAAP titlist NU-Manila also continues its path to back-to-back NBTC titles when it faces Calayan Educational Foundation-Quezon at 2 p.m., followed by NCAA champion Mapua-Manila bracing for contender FEU-Manila at 3:30 p.m.
The week-long tournament is free to the public.
The semis, finals and All-Star Game of the tournament sponsored by Chooks-to-Go, Darlington-Exped Socks, EPSON, Huawei, Freego, Purefoods, Gatorade, Go for Gold, SM, Molten and presented by 5Plus and Lighthouse Events will be aired live on ESPN5.