COLEGIO de San Lorenzo-V Hotel brought down top favorite Far Eastern University-NRMF-Gerry’s Grill, 87-85, in their heart-stopping title showdown to complete a Cinderella story in the 2017 MBL Open basketball championship.
Soulemane Chabi Yo, a prized find from the French-speaking West African nation Benin, made the big difference in the Griffins’ fairy-tale finish against the heavily-favored Tamaraws.
The 6’6” Chabi Yo exploded with 28 points against the tight defense of FEU imports Moustapha Arafat and Kareem Abdul to power the Griffins of CdSL president Rina Monique Balgan, executive director Dr. Pedro Lora, manager Jimi Lim and coach Boni Garcia to the title in their first MBL appearance.
The African import, who was voted as Most Valuable Player, highlighted the big night with his high-flying moves to the baskets and monster slam dunks to the delight of the predominantly FEU crowd that included school owner Nino Reyes.
Dominic Formento, Jon Gabriel, Charles Callano and Argie Baldevia provided ample scoring support for CdSL, which finished with a 9-1 win-loss record in the tournament sponsored by Smart Sports, Star Bread, Dickies Underwear, Ironcon Builders and Gerry’s Grill.
Formento, the smallest man on the court, finished with 19 points, including four triples.
“This is another big achievement for the team,” said Garcia, who also led the Griffins to the NCRUCLAA title early this year.
Jhaps Bautista carried the fight for FEU-NRMF with 18 points, but committed two crucial turnovers in the final minute.
Arafat and Christian Manalo added 11 points apiece, while Fil-Canadian Clay Crellin contributed nine points.
Ex-PBA star Jerwin Gaco was thrown out of the game for an above-the-shoulder hit on Gabriel right in the firsf quarter.
Actually, the Pido Jarencio-clached Tanaraws fell behind by as many as 20 points in the second period but came charging back to keep the game interesting.
The Tamaraws cut the lead to two points several times during a furious fourth-quarter comeback but missed a chance to send the game into overtime when Bautista lost the ball while going for the game-tying drive to the basket with 10 seconds left.
With the loss, FEU-NRMF settled for runner-up honor exactly six months after bagging its first MBL title.
Philippine Christian University finished third, while Diliman College-JPA Freight Logistics wound up fourth.
Joining Chabi Yo in the Mythical Team are Formento, Crellin, Mike Ayonayon of PCU and Alex Diakhite of Diliman.
MBL vice chairman Jimi Lim awarded the trophies, along with People’s Tonight sports editor Ed Andaya and commissioner Anthony Sulit, who represented MBL chairman Alex Wang.
CdSL-V Hotel (87) — Chabi Yo 28, Formento 19, Gabriel 15, Callano 11, Baldevia 7, Borja 4, Castanares 2, Rosas 1, Laman 0.
FEU-NRMF-Gerry’s Grill (85) — Bautista 18, Arafat 11, Manalo 11, Morales 11, Crellin 9, A. Santos 6, Gaco 4, Sta. Maria 4, Tan 3, Zamora 3, Abdul 2, Santos 2, Gumabay 1, Camacho 0.
Quarterscores: 29-18, 48-34, 68-54, 87-85
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