PBA 3x3: Undermanned Meralco outlasts Cavitex for Leg 2 crown

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2022 05:39 PM | Updated as of May 29 2022 06:09 PM

The Meralco Bolts 3x3 celebrate after winning Leg 2 of the PBA 3x3 Third Conference. PBA Images.
The Meralco Bolts 3x3 celebrate after winning Leg 2 of the PBA 3x3 Third Conference. PBA Images.

MANILA (UPDATE) - Dexter Maiquez nailed the game-winning two-pointer as the Meralco Bolts 3x3 recovered from a late deficit to break the hearts of Cavitex, 18-17, and rule Leg 2 of the PBA 3x3 Third Conference.

It was an impressive performance for the Bolts, who had to play five matches on Sunday at Robinsons Las Piñas and were undermanned in the final as Mclean Sabellina missed most of the game due to a knee injury.

The Braves, making their first ever appearance in a leg final, looked headed for a breakthrough title as they took a 16-11 lead with just over two minutes to go thanks to a two-pointer by Prince Rivero.

But they couldn't hold on to the lead. Alfred Batino cut the deficit to four points with a layup, and Joseph Sedurifa shook off his shooting struggles early in the game by nailing back-to-back two-pointers to tie the game with 18.8 ticks left.

Cavitex had a chance to snatch the win in regulation but Rivero's layup was well contested at the buzzer. The Braves took a one-point lead in overtime, 17-16, off a layup by Bong Galanza, but they could not finish off the game.

Instead, it was Meralco that converted the game-winner, thanks to Maiquez who didn't give up after missing from the left corner. The big man relocated to the right side of the arc and sank the twinner, leading to an emotional celebration with his squad.

"Sacrifice lang," said Maiquez, who had three points. "Humugot na lang kami sa isa't isa. Binuhos na namin, kasi sabi namin, finals na ito."

Sedurifa and Batino each had seven points in the final, while Sabellina scored Meralco's first point before being subbed out with still over nine minutes to go. He did not return to the game.

"Wala akong masabi sa efforts ng mga teammates ko," he said afterward. "Kahit na tatlo lang sila, work hard pa rin sila."

Clutch two-pointers by Joseph Sedurifa paved the way for Meralco's comeback. PBA Images.
Clutch two-pointers by Joseph Sedurifa paved the way for Meralco's comeback. PBA Images.

The Bolts won a leg for the first time since the fourth leg of the PBA 3x3 Second Conference. They brought home the top prize of P100,000. Cavitex, which still claimed their best ever finish in a leg, settled for the runner-up purse of P50,000.

Rivero had seven points and Galanza had six in a losing effort for the Braves.

Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra survived TerraFirma, 20-19, to snatch third place in a thriller.

In a back-and-forth battle, Dennice Villamor nailed a short jumper to give Ginebra a 20-19 lead with 28.2 seconds to go, but the Gin Kings had to hold their breath as TerraFirma's Shaq Alanes found himself wide open from two-point range.

Unfortunately for the Dyip, Alanes' twinner hit the back iron, and Jeremiah Taladua's last-ditch attempt from long distance also misfired. 

Ginebra claimed a podium finish for the second straight leg, having lost to TNT in the finals of Leg 1. They go home with the third-place purse of P30,000.