IT will be defending champion FEU-NRMF-Gerry’s Grill vs Colegio de San Lorenzo-V Hotel in the championship of the 2017 MBL Open basketball tournanent.
FEU-NRMF averted another major meltdown to subdue Diliman College-JPA Freight Logistics, 82-76, while CdSL-V Hotel completed a stunning reversal to beat Philippine Christian University, 95-83, and set up a winner-take-all title showdown at the FEU-NRMF gym in Fairview.
Christian Manalo and import Moustapha Arafat provided the endgame heroics for the Tamaraws, who squandered several double-digit leads in the first half and fell behind by 10 points before recovering in time to escape with the win.
Manalo scored 10 of his team-high 16 points during a see-saw battle in the fourth quarter to lift the Tamaraws of owner-manager Nino Reyes and coach Pido Jarencio to victory over the hard-fighting Dragons.
Arafat scored the team’s last five points—a three-point play off a foul by Diliman counterpart Alex Diakhite and two pressure-packed free throws—to seal the win for the Tamaraws in the tournament sponsored by Smart Sports, Star Bread, Dickies Underwear, Ironcon Builders and Gerry’s Grill.
Jhaps Bautista also finished with 16 points and ex-PBA star Jerwin Gaco added 13 points for FEU-NRMF, which blew a huge 20-point lead and lost to Diliman, 84-90, in their semis game last Tuesday.
Last year’s MBL MVP Clay Crellin contributed nine points, six in the fourth quarter.
Diakhite, Diliman’s “Tower of Power” who led the league in scoring during the elimination round, topscored with 20 points while being matched against Arafat and former UST center Kareem Abdul.
The 6’8” Diakhite had eight points in the third quarter when the Rensy Bajar-mentored Dragons outscored the Dragons, 31-15, to erase the Tamaraws’ double-digit lead and take a 60-55 lead going into the payoff period.
Kris Torrado and Joseph Brutas added 14 and 13 points, respectively.
It was a sorry loss for Diliman, which is seeking its second MBL title in three years and a grandslam of sorts by winning the title in three major pre-seasons tournaments.
CdSL-V Hotel rode on the combined 42- point production of Algie Baldevia and import Soulenane Chabi Yo to beat PCU for the second time in three days and earn a championship ticket in its first MBL appearance
Baldevia scattered 24.points and Chabi Yo added 18 points for the Griffins, who also defeated the Dolphins, 82-79, last Tuesday.
Chabi Yo’s finest moment came when he soared above two PCU defenders and delivered a monster slam that sent the crowd composed mostly of FEU-NRMF students up on its feet.
Dominic Formento added 12 points, including two triples.
Former MBL MVP Von Tambeling and Yves Sazon led PCU with 17 points apiece.
But Mike Ayonayon, the other half of the Dolphins’ 1-2 punch that gave them a 6-1 record in the elimination, was held to only two points.
The championship game is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. today (June 24).
7:30 p.m. -- FEU-NRMF vs. CdSL-V Hotel