The third leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Magiting Cup was another one for the books as Wilkins Balanga Pure escaped Equalivet Pasig in the Finals, 21-20 (1:58) at SM BF in Parañaque, Tuesday afternoon thanks to Karl Dehesa's game-winning two-pointer.
The quartet of Dehesa, Chris Dechavez, Alvin Pasaol, and Leonard Santillan won over the foursome of Dylan Ababou, Joshua Munzon, Leo De Vera, and Travis Thompson once again to win in their rematch.
Balanga, who won their second leg of the conference, took another victory at the expense of Pasig, which they also won against in the first leg at SM Clark in Pampanga.
Both teams were absent in the previous leg last Friday due to their participation in the Manila Challenger, but made a tremendous comeback.
Down one, 20-19, Dehesa uncorked a tough two-pointer from the left wing that swished to give Balanga the 100,000-peso prize. Ababou had given Pasig championship point after a wide-open deuce following Pasaol's putback.
"It's just the beginning, and I hope we only get better from here," said the ex-pro. "The shot was really set up for Chris. We wanted to get a two...Chris ended up passing it to me instead of Alvin, and I was like f--k it, I'm going to shoot it!"
The contest was close throughout, with both teams exchanging leads since the opening possession.
Balanga led by as many as five with 3:51 left after Pasaol drilled a two-pointer that gave them a 15-10 advantage. Pasig, the country's top 3x3 squad, showed their grit as Joshua Munzon, the top 3x3 player in the country, responded with one from downtown to cut the lead, 15-12.
After Pasaol took advantage of a free throw, Munzon once again hit from downtown. Dehesa then drove to give Balanga a 17-14 lead.
Pasig's Ababou would not let his team go down that quick as he hit back-to-back long bombs to tie the game at 18-all with 2:38 left.
Wilkins advanced to the Finals after two free throws from Pasaol to down last leg's champions Fyr Fyter Bacolod, 21-14 (3:35).
Former pro Ababou meanwhile gave Pasig a ticket to the Finals after canning a two-pointer from the right corner to escape with a 21-18 win over Basilan Phenom CTC Construction at the 1:09 mark.
They came off a successful stint in the first-ever Challenger level competition in the country. Pasig reached the quarterfinals, but got ousted by eventual finalists Lyon (France), 20-17.
Balanga meanwhile was swept in Pool A, yielding to Humpolec and Challenger champions Riga.
Other Filipino teams Isabela City (Basilan) and Zamboanga lost to Pasig in the qualifiers in the first day, while Narvacan failed to advance to the main draw.
High-flyer David Carlos of Muntinlupa took home another Chooks-to-Go Harissa Roast Slam Dunk crown, while Franky Johnson of Basilan emerged victorious in the Chooks-to-Go Harissa Roast Two-Point shootout.
The penultimate leg will be held on Sunday, September 15, at the same venue as the Philippines' push for a spot in the inaugural Olympic 3x3 tournament in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games continues.