PHILIPPINE National Police and Malacañang arranged a title duel in the 5th UNTV Cup by downing their twice-to-beat rivals in their respective best-of-three semis series held over the weekend at the Pasig City Sports Center.
The third-seeded PNP Responders leaned on the heroics of PO2 Alejandro Yanquiling to eke out a 74-72 thriller over the two-time champion Judiciary Magis and gain a fourth straight finals appearance in the event organized by UNTV through its president and CEO Daniel Razon.
Former University of the East player Ollan Omiping and Julius Criste led PNP with 15 points but it was Yanquiling who delivered the killing blows by scoring five points in the last two minutes of the game.
He tied the count at 72-all with a booming trey before sealing the deal with two charities with just 11 ticks left to frustrate their second-seeded rivals.
In the finals, the Responders will face the Malacañang Kamao, who also completed a two-game sweep of the top seed BOC Transformers with an 80-76 win in Game 2.
Game 1 of the best-of-three finals is set on March 5 with the chosen charity of the winning team earning P4 million top prize. The charity of the runner-up squad gets P2 million.
PNP has Police Community Relations Group’s "Drug Rehabilitation Program" as its chosen charity while Malacañang picked Philippine Children's Medical Center as its recipient.
Former University of Santo Tomas standout Christian Luanzon led Malacañang with 18 points, including a clutch basket that helped the Kamao clinch the win. He was ably supported by Eric dela Cuesta and Ian Garrido, who hit 16 points each in a slow but physical game.
PNP 74 - Criste 15, Omiping 15, Yanquiling 11, Sta. Cruz 9, Tolentino 9, Cabahug 5, Misola 4, Abaya 2, Ongutan 2, Elopre 2, Bayabao 0, Decena 0, Cabrera 0
JUDICIARY 72 - Tolomia 24, Camaso 19, Ybanez 16, Capus 7, Salamat 4, Puno 2, Marquez 0, Bergonio 0, Enriquez 0, Rabino 0, Serrano 0, Roma 0.
Quarters: 20-32, 40-49, 52-64, 74-72.
MALACANANG 80 - Luanzon 18, Dela Cuesta 16, Garrido 16, Besa 16, Jimenez 8, V. Javier 2, Abalos 2, Yamamoto 1, N. Javier 1, Gadong 1, Ignario 0.
CUSTOMS 76 - Duremdes 19, Aquino 17, S. Ignacio 13, Ejercito 10, Sumalinog 7, Franco 6, R. Ignacio 4, Canoza 0.
Quarters: 12-21, 34-44, 56-53, 80-76.
Games on March 5
(Pasig City Sports Center)
3 p.m. Judiciary Magis vs. BOC Transformers
5 p.m. PNP Responders vs Malacañang Kamao