Marikina scores thrilling win over Paranaque to clinch inaugural MBT championship
The Marikina Shoelanders are the inaugural Metro Basketball Tournament champions.

MARIKINA leaned on the endgame heroics of Felix John Villarente to pull off a thrilling 64-60 victory over Paranaque and emerged the inaugural champion of the Metro Basketball Tournament Saturday night at the San Andres gym.

Villarente scattered five points in the homestretch and feed off Eduard Albert Zeller to cap a 9-3 scoring run that sealed the deal for the Shoelanders.

Marikina trailed, 55-57, in the final 1:49 of the tense winner-take-all showdown before Villarente took over the game.

He finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and seven assists to win MVP honor in the tournament for players 16-and-under and an initial project of the Metro Manila Sports Fest in coordination with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) under new Chairman Danilo Lim and now General Manager Tim Orbos, and the Metro Manila Council.

Villarente was also named to the Mythical Five along with Zelter, Kyle Edward Cuevas of Paranaque, Johnred Louise Lugo of Makati, and San Juan’s Adrian Daniel Rellama.

“This is a win for the entire Marikina community and of course, for Mayor (Marcelino) Teodoro,” said Shoelander’s head coach Elvis Tolentino.

Zeller and Alladin Doquilla finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively for Marikina, which squandered a 15-point first half lead after Paranaque rallied back behind the efforts of Allen Yan Tacaldo, and Cuevas to make a game out of it.

The Green Berets also hurt their cause after committing 27 turnovers, including two crucial ones down the stretch.

In the other games of Championship Day, MMDA run away with the Division II title after an 80-73 win over San Juan, while Malabon snared the Division III crown by routing Pasig, 98-82.

Former PBA player and coach Pido Jarencio served as commissioner, while Bonnie Tan was director of tournament which has Higer Bus as major sponsor, PLDT as the internet provider, and Spalding as the official ball.

Also backing the meet are Excellent Noodles, Summit Natural Drinking Water, Synergy 88 Digital, World Balance, Regan Industrial Sales, Gadgets In Style, Gerry’s Grill, Cloudfone, Firefly Lighting, Frabelle Foods, Burlington, Higer, Stonini, Star Bread, Cobra Energy Drink, Grips Hair Wax, Alcoplus Alcohol, and

Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph