SENATE booked its first trip to the UNTV finals by sweeping top seed Armed Forces of the Philippines, while Malacañang-Philippines Sports Commission earned a chance for redemption by downing National Housing Authority.
Drawing another solid all-around performance from former PBA player Jeff Sanders and the dominant inside plays of Marlon Legaspi and Harley Ng, the Senate Defenders defeated the AFP Cavaliers, 86-80, at the Meralco gym in Pasig City to reach the finals of the annual event for public servants for the first time.
While it was Legaspi who topscored with 18 points, it was Sanders who made the big plays in the crunch as the fourth-seeded Defenders arranged a best-of-three title series with the Kamao starting on March 4.
Sanders chipped in 15 points aside from producing five boards and three assists while Ng and Rommel Balboa combined for 29 points as the Defenders turned back the twice-to-beat Cavaliers.
The No. 3 seed Kamao, on the other hand, leaned on the hot-shooting of former top collegiate player Erick dela Cuesta and Christian Luanzon to beat the second-ranked NHA Builders, 88-82.
Like the Defenders, the Kamao also bucked a slow start to frustrate the twice-to-beat Builders in their own series organized by UNTV president and CEO Daniel Razon.
Dela Cuesta sizzled with 22 points while Visnu Daz Javier and Luanzon had 21 and 14 points, respectively.
The chosen charity of the champion team gets P4 million while the runner-up’s charity shall receive P2 million, the third placers P1 million and for the fourth placers P500,000.