HUBERT Cani shone brightest among the best high school players in Metro Manila as he led Team Hype to a 93-90 win over Team Punks on Saturday night in the inaugural Slam Rising Stars Classic at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City.
Cani had 19 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals for Team Hype, including two crucial free throws in the stretch run that clinched for him the Most Valuable Player trophy in the exhibition game.
But despite Cani heroics, Team Hype needed to survive a furious rally by Team Punks led by Thirdy Ravena, who had 12 of his 23 points in the final quarter in an entertaining finish to the contest.
The incoming Ateneo freshman led a 13-4 run by Team Punks, with Jay Javelosa splitting his two free throws to tie the game at 87-87.
Cani, a star for National University's UAAP juniors champion team and a target of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, saved the day for Team Hype sinking two charities with 29 seconds left to break the tie, 89-87.
After John Apacible hit two free throws of his own to hike Team Hype’s lead to three, Ravena had a chance for a game-tying three-point basket.
Unfortunately, the reigning UAAP juniors MVP lost his footing and couldn’t throw up a three-point attempt at the end of the game.
“Sobrang blessed ako na MVP ako,” said Cani. “Hindi ko akalain dahil binigay ko lang ang lahat at eto ang naging outcome. Nagpapasalamat ako sa Diyos.”
More than the game, Team Hype coach Jamike Jarin said the match showcased the future of Philippine basketball with 24 of the best high school players in action.
“It was a very enjoyable game,” said Jarin, also the head coach of the national youth team. “It shows the future of Philippine basketball at its brightest.”
“Sobrang challenge kasi nandito lahat ng mga magagaling,” added Cani. “Kailangan ko talagang galingan para rin sa team namin.”
San Beda’s Ranbill Tongco added 17 points for Team Hype, while La Salle Greenhills’ Prince Rivero added 13 markers.
Rev Diputado of San Beda finished with 14 points for Team Punks.
Hype (93) - Cani 19, Tongco 17, Rivero 13, Tolentino 8, Ma. Nieto 8, Doliguez 6, Adorio 5, Cauilan 5, Escoto 5, Mi. Nieto 4, Dela Cruz 2, Yong 2.
Punks (90) - Ravena 23, Diputado 14, Domingo 9, Javelosa 9, Subido 8, Apacible 7, Gayosa 7, Mocon 7, Quinga 4, Calisaan 2, Dandan 0.
Quarterscores: 25-18; 53-46; 74-68; 93-90.