Headlined by Filipino-American Kihei Clark and full-blooded Filipino Kai Sotto, Team Cherifer Hustle outlasted Team Cherifer Heart, 99-91, in the annual 2018 Darlington SM NBTC All-Star Game on Friday at the MOA Arena.
Clark, the floor leader of FilAm Sports, collected 13 points, seven boards, six assists, and three steals to claim the All-Star Game MVP, while the Blue Eaglets' towering teen Sotto put up 15 points, seven rebounds, and two blocked shots.
Team Cherifer Hustle was coached by Lyceum Philippines University's Topex Robinson and assisted by UAAP champion Joe Silva.
“It’s really an honor for me. Just like what I told my players, we always honor the people that open the doors for us,” Robinson said. “We leave a legacy for the kids that are gonna follow them. It’s exciting to see them and be a part of their careers.”
Team Cherifer Hustle was holding on to a slim 84-80 advantage with four minutes left in the ball game until Nazareth School of National University's Terrence Fortea’s three-pointer sparked the decisive run to close out the contest.
Another booming triple by SJ Belangel made it an 11-point game with a little over two minutes left, ensuring the win for Team Hustle.
Joining Clark, Sotto, and Fortea for Team Cherifer Hustler were SJ Belangel, Will Gozum, Miguel Oczon, RJ Abarrientos, Matthew Daves, Mac Guadana, Rhayyan Amsali, CJ Cansino, Alex Visser, Cooper McLaughlin, Joem Sabandal, and Harvey Pagsanjan.
“Everybody really wanted to contribute, that’s how we honor the game, by giving our best, playing the right way,” added Robinson.
For Team Cherifer Heart, Dave Ildefenso led the way with 15 points and four rebounds. Top US high school prospect Jalen Green also wowed the crowd his high-flying dunks and finished with 11 points.
Team Cherifer Heart was rounded out by John Galinato, L-Jay Gonzales, Brandon Wilson, Joel Cagulangan, Warren Bonifacio, Joshua Yerro, Aaron Fermin, Raven Cortez, Maui Cruz, Clint Escamis, Beirn Laurente, Inand Fornillos, and Taine Davis.
“It’s really how NBTC has developed these kids. The vision of NBTC is really grassroots for this level,” Robinson said about the talent level of the young high school stars. “Seeing these kids, the future of Philippine basketball is really something that we will look forward to.”
Meanwhile, Raphael Dimayuga of La Salle-Lipa came up big in the clutch for the Kiefer Ravena-coached Team Cherifer Dedication as it slipped past the Jeron Teng-mentored Team Cherifer Passion, 91-89, in the Division 2 All-Star Game.
Dimayuga drilled the huge triple with 1:21 remaining before Ryan Cruz of Bacolod Tay Tung High School followed up with the go-ahead bucket to swing the lead in favor of Cherifer Dedication, 90-89, with 29 seconds remaining.
James Barrera could only settle for a split with 1.4 seconds remaining to give his side the two-point lead, keeping the door alive for Cherifer Passion, but Harold Alarcon muffed his potential game-winning triple at the buzzer.
Dimayuga paced Cherifer Dedication with 20 points and three rebounds. He was named All-Star MVP.
Shawn Algire of St. Benilde International School Calamba poured 14 markers and five boards, Janwell Famaranco of Hercor College of Roxas got 14 points and six rebounds, and Barrera, also of Bacolod Tay Tung, tallied 10 markers and 14 boards in the win.
Marc Angcap of University of Luzon-Dagupan led Cherifer Passion with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Kevin Barranco of St. Robert’s International School Ilo-ilo got 13 markers.
DIVISION 1 ALL-STAR GAME
CHERIFER HUSTLE 99 — Belangel 16, Sotto 15, Clark 13, Gozum 13, Fortea 10, Oczon 4, Abarrientos 4, Amsali 4, Davis 4, Guadaña 4, Cansino 3, McLaughlin 2, Pagsanjan 2, Sabandal 2, Visser 2.
CHERIFER HEART 91 — Galinato 15, Ildefonso 15, Gonzales 12, Green 11, Wilson 9, Cagulangan 7, Bonifacio 6, Fermin 6, Yerro 6, Cortez 2, Cruz 2, Davis 0, Escamis 0, Fornilos 0, Laurente 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 18-18, 38-40, 67-63, 99-91.
DIVISION 2 ALL-STAR GAME
CHERIFER DEDICATION 91 — Dimayuga 20, Algire 14, Famaranco 14, Barrera 10, Del Rosario 7, Cruz 6, Gomez 6, Untalan 5, Tolentino 4, Ong 2, Pagcu 2, Lazarte 1, Garcia 0, Javier 0, Liu 0.
CHERIFER PASSION 89 — Angcap 16, Barranco 13, Alarcon 8, Doromal 8, Janao 8, Abila 6, Pinero 6, Platon 6, Castisimo 4, Ocancas 4, Santos 4, Pepito 3, Sablaon 3, Halasan 0, Itao 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 18-20, 34-40, 63-68, 91-89.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.