MANILA, Philippines – Undermanned and facing a new finals foe, the Pasig Grindhouse Kings flashed their championship pedigree and once again reigned supreme in the 4th leg of the Chooks Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup at the SM Megamall Events Center on Saturday, March 9.
Down to just 3 players after the elimination round as Dylan Ababou sustained a right calf injury, the Kings still managed to outlast the Pasay Voyagers in the finals, 14-12.
Taylor Statham led Pasig with 7 points, including two clutch baskets in the final minute to edge a gritty effort from Pasay and win their second title in 4 tours so far.
Statham converted on a tough hook shot with 25.8 seconds left to give his team a two-point cushion, 14-12. After a scramble for the loose ball, possession was awarded to Pasay with 2.3 ticks on the clock.
However, Jaypee Belencion's desperation heave from beyond the arc missed as time expired.
"I feel like it started early this week, we just had to refocus," Statham said. "It's important for us to regain focus, be cohesive as a team again, and the chips fell into their place."
Troy Rike added 4 points while Joshua Munzon chipped in with 3 markers in the highly-physical affair.
"We kinda just picked our spirits up. Dylan is a great leader, so him being on the court or the sideline, he’s gonna have the same effect," Statham shared as Ababou watched and cheered from the sidelines.
"We wanted to win it for us and also for Dylan. We have two weeks now so he has time to heal up and get back to us."
During the 3rd leg, Statham and the Grindhouse Kings lost in a close encounter against the Bataan Risers in the finale. It was the third consecutive championship bout between Pasig and Bataan, and with the Risers nabbing their second title.
However, the 4th leg offered a different scenario as the Risers met a roadblock in the form of the Valenzuela Classics during the elimination round.
Chris De Chavez buried a booming game-winner that sent the defending champions packing, 21-18, with 2:11 to spare.
In the semifinals, Pasay bested Valenzuela, 21-12, to set up a finals meeting against a Pasig side that triumphed over the San Juan Knights, 21-16.
The Classics entered the semis shorthanded as Carlo De Chavez was suspended after figuring in a shoving match with QC-Zark's Jawbreakers' Ronnie Matias in the group stages.
Pasig 14 – Statham 7, Rike 4, Munzon 3.
Pasay 12 – Adams 7, Tolentino 2, Lastimosa 2, Belencion 1.