SENATE came through with a huge defensive effort in fourth quarter, ousting last year’s champion Philippine National Police, 74-66, to advance to the semifinals of the 6th UNTV Cup at the Pasig City Sports Center.
With Gari Sevilla and former PBA player Jeff Sanders showing the way, the Senate Defenders erased a 58-55 deficit early in the fourth behind a decisive spurt which proved huge enough to take the fight out of the Responders.
Apart from their impressive transition plays, the Defenders were rock-solid defensively as they held the Responders to just eight points while scoring 19.
The Defenders arranged a best-of-three semis duel with top seed and two-time champion Armed Forces of the Philippines beginning on Sunday.
Sevilla led the Defenders with 22 points, James Ryan Mangaran added 16 and Sanders scored 13, aside from making life miserable for PNP’s top gun Olan Omiping.
Omiping was held to just 13 points in the tournament offering P4 million to the chosen charity of the champion team.
For topping the two-round elims of the event organized by UNTV through its president and CEO Daniel Razon, the AFP Cavaliers need just to beat the Defenders once to book a return trip to the finals.
Malacañang-Philippine Sports Commission defeated Judiciary, 79-64, in the other game and will face second seed National Housing Authority in the semifinals.