After a full-scale brawl marred the final elimination game between bitter rivals Misamis Oriental and M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala Cebu, the Niños’ bounced back with a gritty 75-71 win over the Meteors to win the Tournament of the Philippines eighth leg at the Xavier University gym in Cagayan de Oro City.
Behind the hot-shooting of Bruce Dacia and Stephen Padilla, the Niños surged ahead 47-33, but the Meteors slowly clawed back behind Eder Saldua and Jeff Morial. MisOr finally wrested the lead, 61-62 on Mark Andaya’s undergoal stab.
A triple by guard Khiel Misa gave MisOr a 67-65 lead but the Niños, through timely hits from Dacia and forward Ariel Mepaña grabbed back the lead 72-70. In the next play, Misa was fouled shooting the 3-point shot but could only make one of three free throws. Cebu’s Mark Ababon then made a clinching triple and was fouled by Misa with 11 seconds left that sealed the win. Ababon missed the foul shot and Ramil Tagupa’s 3-point attempt was way off as the final buzzer sounded.
The hotly contested championship game was a far more different from the previous game wherein play was stopped with MisOr comfortably ahead 66-44 with 28 seconds left and headed for a three-game sweep of the eliminations when MisOr’s Ronald Lamocha and Cebu’s Nat Cruz engaged in a fight. When cooler heads prevailed, Cruz was rushed to a nearby hospital with cuts in his nape and a swollen eye.
The game was not completed following the incident and Cebu coach Yayoy Alcoseba conceded the game to avoid any further harm.
The only difference between the previous game and last night’s championship was that Cebu was making their triples when it counted most.