MANILA, Philippines -- Jumbo Plastic-Basilan reigned supreme in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup Mindanao Leg in sweeping fashion.
The Peace Riders claimed the title of Mindanao's best after powering past Petra Cement-Roxas, 89-70, to complete a sweep of the tournament on Monday night at the Pagadian City gymnasium in Zamboanga del Sur.
Having won all 10 games in the Mindanao Leg, Basilan is now setting its sights on the Southern Finals where Visayas kings KCS-Mandaue are waiting. The best-of-five showdown starts on August 11.
"Talagang napakasarap nitong championship na ito kasi nandito ka lang sa liga during a pandemic, you're one of the fortunate na," said Basilan head coach Jerson Cabiltes.
The Vanguards went basket-per-basket with the Peace Riders in the first half, even grabbing the advantage at halftime, 34-32.
But they could not keep it up in the second half, especially after Cabiltes let his players hear it at the break.
"I was very upset during halftime. I scolded all of them. I am very glad that they responded very well," said Cabiltes.
The Peace Riders, who hold the league's record for most points, unleashed their scoring prowess, going for 35 in the third period while limiting the Vanguards to just 19 to build a 14-point lead heading into the fourth, 67-53.
Basilan followed it up with 13 unanswered points to open the payoff period and establish an insurmountable 27-point spread at the 5:03 mark, 80-53.
Chris Bitoon was hailed as the Finals MVP with averages of 15.0 points, 6.0 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.5 rebounds per game.
"Sobrang saya na mai-represent 'yung province ko tapos nag-Finals MVP pa ako," said Bitoon, whose parents hail from Basilan.
Season MVP Hesed Gabo led Basilan with 13 points, three assists, and two rebounds. Michael Juico backstopped him with 12 points, six rebounds, three steals, and two blocks.
The newly-minted Finals MVP dropped 10 points, eight assists, three rebounds, and three steals.
Roxas starting center Lester Reyes hit the showers early at the 3:57 mark of the second period after a hit on Basilan's Gabo, which the officials deemed as flagrant foul penalty 2.
His absence had a great impact on Roxas' interior defense. Before Reyes' ejection, the Peace Riders were limited to just 16 points in the paint. After he was gone, Basilan just pounded the paint, finishing with 48.
Aside from Reyes, there were other flagrant foul penalty 1s called on Kim Saliddin, Jhong Bondoc, and Raj Elmejrab. James Castro was called for a technical foul.
Leo Najorda paced the Vanguards with 15 points. Castro added 13 points and five rebounds but had six turnovers.
Jordan Sta. Ana missed the game due to a left knee strain.
Besides the honor of being Mindanao champions, the Peace Riders will also bring home P500,000 courtesy of Chooks-to-Go. The Vanguards will not go home empty-handed with P100,000.
Basilan 89 - Gabo 13, Juico 12, Uyloan 10, Bitoon 10, Baloria 10, Balucanag 7, Taganas 6, Mabulac 6, Manalang 6, Collado 5, Latip 3, Bringas 1, Saliddin 0, Hallare 0, Siruma 0.
Roxas 70 - Najorda 15, Castro 13, Camacho 8, Jaime 6, Rifarial 5, Templo 5, Reyes 4, Bondoc 4, Intic 3, Elmejrab 3, Pasia 2, Deles 2, Velasco 0, Casino 0.
Quarter scores: 16-16, 32-34, 67-53, 89-70.