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Senate Advocates nip Star Troopers, cop title

Members and supporters of the Senate Advocates, led by Senators Sonny Angara (middle, in white shirt) and Franklin Drilon, pose after beating the Star Troopers in Game 3 of the MBL title series. Also in photo is Meralco president Oscar Reyes (beside Sen. Drilon). Joey Viduya

MANILA, Philippines — Senate survived the furious rally of The Philippine STAR Troopers at endgame as it eked out a 76-75 thriller and capture the Makabansa Basketball League crown before a packed crowd at Meralco Fitness Center yesterday.

Michael Dan Omega sank a clutch freethrow with 4.3 seconds left then eventual Finals MVP Mark Anthony Marcos disrupted the Troopers’ final offensive as the Advocates completed the upset via a come-from-behind 2-1 win in the title series.

Marcos banged in 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds and issued five assists while Anthony Lim and James Mangaran chipped in 17 and 15, respectively, for the newly crowned champions, who received their trophy from Meralco president and CEO Oscar Reyes.

The Advocates spoiled the 28-point explosion of Jhong Bondoc, who rifled in four triples for The STAR team headed by president and CEO Miguel G. Belmonte.

“We had many turnovers and the calls didn’t go our way in the crucial stretch,” said STAR playing coach Alfred Bartolome, whose wards turned the ball over 33 times in the heated contest.

Using their outside shooting as weapon, the Advocates made their eighth connection from beyond the arc to seize a 68-57 cushion going to the last 6:55. But STAR refused to give up, rallying behind Bondoc and Ver Roque with Gerald Ortega coming through with the equalizer at 75 with 12 seconds to go in the contest.

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Senate got a big break when Roque was slapped with a foul, sending Omega to the stripe. He missed the frontend but made the second as the Advocates squad led by Senators Sonny Angara and Joel Villanueva and their supporters who included Sen. Franklin Drilon erupted in jubilation.

The Senate cagers sealed the deal by shutting down STAR in the last play.

Roque shot 19 for the Troopers, who ended their campaign on a sour note after a swashbuckling start.

The Troopers swept their first nine games in the elims and playoffs to progress to the finals. They took Game One in overtime, 80-75, but failed to go all the way, losing Game Two, 64-66, then eventually the rubbermatch.

The MBL, according to project head Atty. Oscar “Jang” Moreno Jr. of Meralco, is formed to solidify partnerships in and among the public and private sectors to better serve the public through sportsmanship, camaraderie, and healthy competition.

Officially opened last July 16, the MBL drew seven private companies and 10 government organizations. The participating private companies are Meralco, NLEX, Maynilad, PLDT, SMART, TV5 and The Philippine STAR, while the government offices are Senate, House of Representatives, Justice League, Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Metro Manila Development Authority and the Philippine National Police.

It is sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Inc. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.

The scores:

Senate 76 – Marcos 18, Lim 17, Mangaran 15, Balboa 8, Angara 5, Omega 4, Escalada 3, Flaminiano 2, Ng 2, Malaga 2, Dascil 0, Marata 0.

Philippine Star 75 – Bondoc 28, Roque 19, Reyes 6, Maconocido 5, Ortega 5,, Bustos 5,  Coquilla 4, Recto 3, Dizon 0.

Quarterscores: 22-21, 46-39, 61-50, 76-75

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