Mandaue fights back, forces do-or-die in Gov’s Cup finals

9 May 2019

MANDAUE CITY—With their season on the line, the Mandaue City Ballers put up a huge fightback in the second half to stun the defending champions Talisay City Aquastars, 94-76, and force a winner-take-all Game 3 in the 2019 Governor’s Cup Inter-Cities/Municipalities Basketball Tournament best-of-three finals last Thursday night, May 9.

Mandaue came into the match facing elimination after after dropping Game 1, 81-76, at the opponent’s turf.

In that Game 1 loss, the Ballers squandered a 12-point halftime lead but the Ballers returned the favor in Game 2 and came up with their own come-from-behind win.

Talisay erected a 46-32 lead after two quarters of play but egged on by their raucous fans, Mandaue refused to just roll over and die as it came charging back in the third period behind a suffocating trapping defense.

With shifty Gabriel Cometa, Kenneth Brillo, Paul Sungahid and LJ Gonzaga taking over, the Ballers quickly changed the complexion of the match as they staged a blistering 25-2 assault to erase the double-digit deficit and wrest a 57-38 head.

In that back-breaking run, Mandaue rattled Talisay with an unrelenting full-court defense that forced the Aquastars to commit one turnover after another.

“I just told the boys that we have to step up. Luckily, our defense clicked,” said Mandaue head coach Gary Cortes.

The Ballers entered the fourth with 72-61 lead and the best the Aquastars could do was to move within 10 points.

Cometa scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the final half while also piling up 16 assists.

Brillo returned from a one-game suspension with 15 points, nine rebounds and six steals, Buscay donated 14 points, while Sungahid and Dwight Dabon chipped in 13 apiece.

Keaton Taburnal paced Talisay with 22 points.

The winner-take-all Game 3 will be played on Saturday, May 11, starting at 3 p.m. at the University of San Carlos Gym in Cebu City.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @burnsports

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