FILIPINO players are flying high, even in the Middle East.
Putting on a show before a full-house crowd at the Al-Saad Stadium in Doha, host M. Builders Qatar Falcons quashed the championship aspirations of visiting Faec Dammam of Saudi Arabia by scoring a scintillating 102-86 win in the final of the 2016 PIDC-GCC All Filipino Championship Cup.
Former National University guard Ronnie Cajayon finished with 34 points built around a record 13 three-pointers to lead the assault of the Paolo Mercado-owned ballclub in a performance that validated his status as the tournament MVP.
“Inspired lang tayo ni idol Steph Curry,” Cajayon, who works as a sales agent for Nestle in Qatar, said. “We really want to prove na solid ang basketball namin dito sa Doha, kaya we really aimed for the trophy.”
Former PBA guard Nino Gelig was a source of stability for the M. Builders team, contributing 10 assists to go with his 17 points, three rebounds and two steals in the title game. He was unanimously choice as the Finals MVP.
Former Sta. Lucia Realtor Norman Gonzales carried the load for Faec with his dominant presence in the paint, but the undersized host team proved to be too quick for the Saudi-based squad.
“Wala, malakas talaga ang Qatar, nung kumawala sila sa first half, nahirapan na kami humabol. Mabibilis tapos kanila pa ang crowd, we’ll try to bounce back next time,” said Gonzales, who played in the PBA from 2001 to 2013.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s Jazzvile JK Sports won over NDC PGW Ajman Dubai in the battle for third place in the two-day tournament featuring the top Pinoy players from different regions of the Middle East.
Aside from providing high level basketball games to homesick OFW’s, the event held in partnership with the Qatar Basketball Federation, Philippine Embassy, and United Filipino Organizations in Qatar, also gave away free round trip tickets to the Philippines, courtesy of Philippine Airlines.
Organizers also gave away three mini iPads, thru telecom giant Oooredoo, while the sponsors M. Builders, Alicafe, Karwa Mowasalat, Travellex Currency Exchange, GO Sports, PGW Tailoring, Brillo Salad Master, Doha Shutterbugs, Nayong Pilipino and Boracay Filipino Restaurants provided the needed logistics for the league.
The tournament, which is just one of the many basketball actitivies for Filipino expats, served as a major highlight of the 118th Independence Day celebration of the large Filipino community in Qatar.
M. Builders-Doha 102 - Cajayon 34, Gelig 17, Mallari 16, Mercado 13, Casas 9, Tiongson 9, Tamayo 2, Calo 2, Proceso 0, Domangcas 0, Medalla 0, Limin 0
Faec-Dammam 86 - Grijaldo 23, Salamat 19, Gonzales 13, Manalili 9, Liangco 9, De Castro 5, Fabula 4, Mapanao 3, Carney 1, Gali 0, Khalili 0, Santos 0