THE PBA selection got a boost from Beau Belga, Arwind Santos, and Paul Lee in the end game to pull off a come-from-behind 80-71 win over the Shanghai Sharks in the final game of the Philippines-China Friendship Games on Tuesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Belga topscored for the PBA pros with 16 points, while Santos and Lee added 15 and nine points, respectively. More importantly, the trio fueled a 17-2 finishing kick to leave the visiting Chinese Basketball Association club a second setback in as many nights.
The final score nearly matched the 80-72 win of Gilas Pilipinas over the Yao Ming-owned Sharks on Monday.
Belga said that it was a matter of pride for the team to win against the Chinese squad.
“Unang-una ang umiral lang sa amin ‘yung pride ng Pilipino,” said the overweight Rain or Shine slotman. “Kung kalaro nga namin, kapwa Pilipino, hindi kami nagpapatalo ng basta basta, paano pa kaya kapag ibang bansa.
"‘Yun lang siguro ang umiral sa amin.”
Zhang Zhaoxu had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Sharks, who failed to protect a 69-63 lead in the fourth.
With nothing at stake but bragging rights, the PBA selection kept the game close thanks to Belga, the Rain or Shine bruised who had nine rebounds and two three-pointers and, more importantly, held his own against the 7-foot-3 Zhang inside the paint.
The PBA cagers got a break when Lee scored off a steal and tied the game with a triple at 69. Zhang connected on two free throws to regain the lead for the Sharks but Santos scored off another steal by Lee, 71-71.
Nino Canaleta finally gave the PBA stars the lead for good with a triple before Belga clinched the win with a lay-up, 76-71, for the Franz Pumaren-mentored selection, which didn’t even have the benefit of a single practice before the one-off goodwill match.
Canaleta had nine points — all on triples — for the PBA selection.
PBA Selection (80) – Belga 16, Santos 15, Lee 9, Canaleta 9, Kramer 8, Cortez 7, Tiu 7, Reyes 5, Miller 2, Hodge 2, Cabagnot 0.
Shanghai Sharks (71) – Zhang 23, Lingyuan 15, Sizhang 10, Yuan Z. 7, Laing 6, Ligang 6, Yi 4, Yang G. 0, Yang Wu 0.
Quarterscores: 11-17; 36-38; 55-59; 80-71.