NATIONAL Housing Authority (NHA) booked a return trip to the UNTV Cup semifinals with a thrilling 77-74 win over the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) last week at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Antonio Lustestica once again shone brightest for the Benneth Palad-mentored NHA Builders by firing 18 points and making three rebounds and a steal.
NHA secured the No. 3 seeding with a match to spare in the quarterfinals of the annual tournament for public servants. The Builders face the Department of Agriculture Food Masters on Sunday.
The Builders will take on No. 2 Department of Environment and Natural Resources Warriors in the semifinals.
The fourth and last semifinalist will be known on Sunday as the Food Masters made the race for the last semis berth doubly exciting with a surprising 71-68 victory over the two-time champions Judiciary Magis.
The Poch Juinio-mentored Food Masters played minus several key players due to previous commitments but they still managed to prevail – thanks to the 23-point performance of Sherwin Silva.
Agriculture’s victory forged a three-way tie with PITC and Judiciary at 6-5.
The fourth semifinalist will face top seed and defending champion Armed Forces of the Philippines in the best-of-three semifinals.
AFP and DENR advanced outright to the semis of the tournament organized by UNTV president Daniel Razon by finishing 1-2 in the two-phase elimination round.
Agriculture 71 - Silva 23, Fernandez 14, Comerciase 8, Dematera 8, Casaysayan 8, Mastelero 8, Hassan 2.
Judiciary 68 - Mustre 18, Tolomia 16, Ybañez 11, Malinao 8, Dela Cruz 7, Salamat 5, Litonjua 2, Serrano 1, Marquez 0.
Quarterscores: 28-19; 41-30; 58-45; 71-68.
NHA 77 - Lustestica 18, Vitug 17, Dizon 11, Mercado 9, W. Tibay 8, Crisostomo 6, R. Tibay 4, M. Dizon 2, Palad 2.
PITC 74 - Vassallo 21, Taplah 16, Lopez 11, Juan 8, Martin 7, Porto 6, Regalado 5.
Quarterscores: 23-19; 45- 40; 57-58; 77-74.