Shaq Imperial came to the rescue and lifted KCS Computer Specialist-Mandaue past MJAS Zenith-Talisay City, 67-66, in Game One of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup-Visayas Leg finals, Friday at the Alcantara Civic Center in Cebu.
Imperial triggered the long-range bomber with 40 seconds to go and saved Mandaue from defeat after his team squandered an 11-point lead.
It was MJAS' first defeat after a 10-game sweep of the elimination round, which included two victories over KCS that had an average margin of 14.0 points a game.
KCS assistant coach Vince Urot said he and the rest of the team weren’t surprised by Imperial’s clutch.
“He always comes up big when his number is called,” said Urot. “We all know him from his CESAFI days. He is not afraid to take those big shots in the grandest stage.”
Imperial, the reigning CESAFI MVP, led Mandaue with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Gryann Mendoza added 15 points, 11 coming in the fourth when Mandaue threatened to blow the game wide open as they took a 62-51 lead, with 5:40 left.
Ping Exciminiano added 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals on top of playing incredible defense on Talisay’s cadre of perimeter threats.
“Defense is our main calling card from the start of the season,” said Urot. “Coach Mike (Reyes) really wants to focus on the defensive side, Alam naman natin gaano kagaling ang Talisay sa offense. It was just all effort and hardwork sa defense.”
Talisay, though, refused to give up and uncorked 11 straight points—sparked by a couple of triples by Patrick Cabahug—to tie things up at 62-all.
However, they just could not get over the hump late in the game.
FROM THE ARCHIVES