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Wilkins Balanga captures Magiting Cup Leg 1 on Pasaol's game-winner

ANGELES CITY, PAMPANGA - Alvin Pasaol and the Wilkins Balanga Pure made sure to deal the same pain the Phenom Basilan Steel handed them 36 days ago, taking a thrilling 21-20 (9:20) win in the final of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Magiting Cup Leg 1, Sunday at the SM Clark Events Center.

Last July 27, Franky Johnson knocked down the game-winner in overtime to lift Basilan past Balanga in the finale of the Patriot's Cup. This time around, Balanga was able to exact a little bit of vengeance.

Knotted at 20-all with 54 seconds left, Basilan's Troy Rike had a clean hook shot underneath. The ball though only went halfway in before going back out that gave the Pure a shot.

"Kinabahan ako. Tumigil yung mundo ko nun. Siguro bwenas na lang kami (I got nervous. My world stopped. I guess we were just lucky.")" recalled Pasaol.

With a chance to seal the game and a PHP 100,000, the burly forward out of Davao powered his way to the paint against Johnson before throwing a wild shot that went in to seal the win with 40.6 seconds to spare.

Besides picking up max money for the leg, Balanga gained an early lead in the standings of this tournament backed by Coca-Cola Philippines.

"Sobrang saya na nakabawi pero isang tournament lang ito. Yung championship talaga yung goal namin. Sana magtuloy tuloy (We're so happy that we got back at them but this is just one tournament. Our goal is the championship. Hopefully we go all the way)," said Pasaol, who had 10 points in the final.

Besides the endgame drama, the game was highly-physical as well.

Balanga's Santi Santillan was cut above his right eyebrow after being accidentally palmed by Troy Rike with 4:30 left while Basilan's newest recruit Davon Potts suffered a busted lip later on.

Santillan would return to the game a minute and 54 seconds later.

"Gusto ko bumalik. Buti naagapan kagad. Iniisip ko yung last conference kasi wala ako nung Grand Finals nun. Yun yung motivation ko (I wanted to go back. Good thing the wound was dealt with right away. I wasthinking about last conference when I missed the Grand Finals. That was my motivation)," shared Santillan, who had three markers in the finale.

Basilan, who still went home with PHP 50,000, was led by Johnson who had nine points while Potts added six markers.

Potts, whose contract with the Alaska Aces expired yesterday, was pivotal in the Steel's road to the final, knocking down game-winners against the Sogo-Vigan Wolves in the quarters (21-14 - 8:27) and against the Mindoro Tamaraws 7A in the semis (21-13 - 7:07).

Balanga, on the other hand, cruised to the semis after a quick 21-9 (4:47) win over the Zamboanga Valientes MLV. The Wilkins-backed squad, however, needed a miraculous deuce by Chris Dechavez to fend off arch-rivals Equaliver-Pasig Kings in the semis, 22-19 (9:35).

Filipino dunk king David Carlos took down the Coca-Cola Slam Dunk contest while Rodel Vaygan of the Mindoro Tamaraws won the Coca-Cola Two-point Shootout. The two took home PHP 10,000.

The next leg of the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Magiting Cup presented by Coca-Cola takes place on Friday, September 6 at the SM Fairview Events Center. Then on the weekend, the first-ever Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3X3 Manila Challenger will happen at the same venue.

The Scores:

Wilkins Balanga 21 - Pasaol 10, Dehesa 5, Santillan 3, De Chavez 2.

Phenom Basilan 20 - Johnson 9, Potts 6, Rike 4, Dionisio 1.