MALOLOS CITY – Jumbo Plastic etched their place in Philippine basketball history as the first ever champions of the Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) by trouncing home team Caida Tiles, 78-73, Sunday night (December 20) at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center. The Linoleum Giants thus swept the Founders Cup best of three series, 2-0, after taking Game One two days earlier, 79-61.
“We trailed for three-fourths of the way and still this team refused to quit,” said a very happy Coach Stevenson Tiu. “It really shows their character and they deserve all the credit, they just played hard and did not blame each other for the slow start.”
Falling behind by as much as 17 points in the second period, 14-31, the Giants began their slow and patient rally, finally grabbing the lead on an Alvin Padilla basket early in the fourth period, 59-57. A seesaw battle ensued as both teams traded the upper hand five more times until Jeff Alvin Viernes hit an insanely long triple from top of the key at the two-minute warning to give Jumbo Plastic the lead for good, 71-69.
“I said to myself that if the shot goes in, we will be champions,” said Viernes who was later named Most Valuable Player of the Finals. “I am not giving up on my dream to make it to the PBA so I hope a team will give me an opportunity.”
Viernes finished with 20 points on top of three rebounds, two assists and two steals. James Martinez supported him with 16 points while Jaymo Eguilos had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
However, Viernes’ performance nearly went to waste as he missed a shot that went out of bounds with still 18 seconds on the clock and Jumbo Plastic nursing a two-point cushion, 75-73. Caida now had a golden chance but Joseph Terso mishandled the ball to return possession to the Giants.
In the game’s defining moment, Eguilos made a free throw off a Terso foul to push the Giants further ahead with eight seconds to go, 76-73. He then missed the second and scrambled to get the loose ball plus another foul from Terso but leg cramps made Martinez take the insurance free throws in lieu of the injured Eguilos for the final tally.
Getting the nod as the PCBL’s first ever MVP just before the game, Billy Ray Robles tried his best to lift the Tilemasters but it was not enough as he totalled 12 points and seven rebounds. Dexter Maiquez followed with 11 points and eight rebounds while Terso and Jiovanni Jalalon chipped in nine points each.
Joining Robles in the Mythical Five were Jay-R Taganas of Jumbo Plastic, Joseph Gabayni of Supremo Lex Builders-OLFU, Rudy Lingganay of Kama Motors and Mac Montilla of Santa Lucia Realty. Also cited was the All-Defensive Team led by Best Defensive Player Jun Gabriel of Santa Lucia, Jalalon, Mark Lopez of Jumbo Plastic, Junar Arce of the Cagayan Rising Suns and Adrian Santos of Euro-Med Laboratories.
In the one-game playoff for Third Place earlier in the day, Santa Lucia came from behind to frustrate Euro-Med, 73-67. Coach Boni Garcia drew improved performances from his second stringers to go home with the hardware.
Robby Celiz submitted a tournament-best 17 points while Jett Vidal made 11 of his 15 points in the fourth period as the Realtors overturned their 44-54 deficit after three periods. Mar Villahermosa paced Euro-Med with 14 followed by Dan Alberto with 12.
With the PCBL Founders Cup a big success, plans are already being made for the next tournament tentatively scheduled for the last week of January next year. Until then, Jumbo Plastic will have enough time to enjoy their victory and prepare for tougher challenges ahead.
How They Scored:
For Third Place
SANTA LUCIA (73) – Celiz 17, Vidal 15, Gabriel 9, Camasura 8, Ilagan 7, Bautista 6, Onwubere 5, Montilla 4, Escosio 2, Wetherell 0, Sarangay 0.
EURO-MED (67) – Villahermosa 14, Alberto 12, de Leon 9, Cortes 9, Galanza 7, Abundo 5, Llagas 5, Zamar 3, Custodio 2, Santos 1, Cenal 0, Celso 0, Cruz 0.
Period Scores: 12-15, 30-27, 44-54, 73-67.
JUMBO PLASTIC (78) – Viernes 20, Martinez 16, Eguilos 11, Mandani 7, M. Lopez 7, Taganas 7, J. Lopez 5, Padilla 3, Arellano 2, Acosta 0, Tayongtong 0.
CAIDA TILES (73) – Robles 12, Maiquez 11, Terso 9, Jalalon 9, Corpuz 8, Gabawan 8, Almario 8, Ruaya 4, Hayes 4, Lozada 0, Jamon 0, Leynes 0.
Period Scores: 10-20, 24-33, 54-57, 78-73.