MANILA, Philippines - Niño Marquez took charge down the stretch, hitting six charities in the last 90 seconds as STAR Group survived a rallying PRC Couriers side, 87-84, to retain the MBL Corporate Cup 2 basketball crown at the San Andres gym in Manila Tuesday night.
The STARmen blew several double-digit margins but went to Marquez in the closing minute to preserve their lead and complete a nine-game sweep of the tournament sponsored by Ironcon Builders, Cebuana Lhuillier, Zucchero Cafe and Sports Bar-Intramuros, Jollibee Luckygold-Pasig, Dickies Underwear and KABAKA of Cong. Amado Bagatsing.
Marquez went on to finish with 32 points and bag the MVP honors in the event ruled by STAR Group, handled by coach Alfred Bartolome and manager Mike Maneze, for the second straight year.
PRC actually forced a tie at 81 on a three-pointer by Edwin Asoro with still 3:30 left but Marquez forced the issue inside, drawing fouls from PRC defenders while canning in the crucial free throws in the clutch.
PRC still had two chances to send the game into overtime, but Norman Goco and Mar Reyes each misfired from the long range as time expired.
MBL chairman Alex Wang awarded the trophy to the STAR Group assisted by commissioner Boy Reglo.
Aside from the trophy, Marquez also took home an MBL Chairman’s Watch and Jollibee Luckygold-Pasig gift certificate.
The Manila Capitals of Mayor Alfredo Lim and MASCO chairman Paul Edward Almario finished third.
Ver Roque and Gio Coquilla added 12 points apiece and Mario Geocada made nine points for The STAR, which also defeated PRC twice in the elimination round.
Anthony Cuevas led PRC with 20 points, including nine at the height of his team’s furious rally in the fourth quarter. Mel Mabigat added 15 and Reyes had 11 points.