SEN. Manny Pacquiao made his much-awaited appearance in the UNTV Cup, helping the Senate Defenders get off to a fine start en route to a 73-70 victory over Philippine International Trading Corporation Global Traders on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The former PBA playing coach buried two triples right in the first quarter although the Defenders needed a strong finish to deny the debuting Global Traders.
“What a win to start our title-retention bid,” said Senate coach Mike Fermin. “Very scary, that’s why I told my players we can’t relax because everybody is after our heads.”
With Gary Sevilla and former PBA player Jeff Sanders at the helm, the Defenders outscored the Global Traders in the payoff period, 24-12, to snatch the win.
Daniel S. Razon, president and CEO of BMPI, led the opening of the 7th edition of the tournament for public servants. The chosen charity of the champion team gets P4 million, and the runners-up P2 million.
Sevilla led the Defenders with 20 points, Sanders had 14 points and Pacquiao finished with 12 markers.
The 12 participating teams have been divided into two groups with Senate, AFP, PNP, GSIS, DOJ and PITC in Group A, while two-time champion Judiciary, Malacañang-PSC, Agriculture, NHA, Ombudsman and PhilHealth play in Group B.