DEFENDING champion Senate recovered from a sluggish second quarter to beat PITC, 65-59, at the start of the quarterfinals of the 7th UNTV Cup at the Pasig City Sports Center.
The Defenders started strong, racing to a 17-6 lead in the first 10 minutes of play but suddenly went cold in the second quarter that allowed the Global Traders to take a 28-27 halftime lead.
With former PBA player Jeff Sanders, Rommel Balboa and Sen. Joel Villanueva taking charge, the Defenders pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Balboa led the Defenders with 17 points, Villanueva scored 16 and Sanders added 11.
Sanders came one rebound short of a double-double while Harley Ng contributed nine points and nine boards for the Defenders, who are looking to become the first back-to-back champion of the event organized by UNTV president and CEO Daniel Razon.
“Good thing we made some big shots in the fourth,” said Senate coach Mike Fermin. “Sen. Villanueva played one of his best games this season.”
Meanwhile, National Housing Authority boosted its own bid for a semis berth by downing Malacanang-Philipppine Sports Commission, 78-72.
Five NHA players finished in double figures with John Dizon and Clark Torrente scoring 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The top two finishers after the single-round quarterfinals will join Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police in the semifinals of the event offering P4 million to the chosen charity of the champion team.