MDX/Armatech clinched its second straight masters championships after outlasting Bayani/LBT Appraisal, 78-62, in the winner-take-all finale of the 2012 UFO Budweiser Cup yesterday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
MDX, which won last year's crown against Cabalen, 84-79, recovered from an early twin-digit deficit, 6-19, making a rally late in the second quarter and holding Bayani/LBT Appraisal to only one field goal in the last 6:14 of the match for a come-from-behind title win.
The finals was last tied at 57-all, 6:14 left on the clock, before Bayani/LBT Appraisal fell prey to MDX's pressure defense, forcing the former to either lose the ball or rattle on its offensive set. MDX's tough defense started in the inbound play, as it hounded Bayani/LBT Appraisal's receivers.
After the deadlock, James Abuy anchored a short 9-2 MDX rally to open a 66-59 advantage, going into the final three minutes of the match. Abuy had 7 in that run with his last basket coming off a steal from Elmer Pineda during an inbound play.
Besides its backcourt errors, LBT also missed crucial free throws that could have kept the team afloat against MDX's uprising. MDX got into foul trouble at the 5:20 mark, sending three LBT players into the 15-foot line in the ensuing plays, but the eventual runner-up went only 3-for-6 aside from the lone field goal it got from Lilio Tiples.
Alex Ocampo made the last split, cutting the lead to eight, 62-70, and LBT had a chance to move closer after an MDX botched play. However, LBT lost the ball anew with Martin Moreno picking Ton Diaz's pocket. Moreno, who had only 2 points in the first half before making 14 in the second, then canned both charities for MDX's double-digit lead, 72-62,
Two more miscues sealed the doom for LBT, as Bruce Berline chased Felix Palacios after the inbound play and the latter was forced to throw a strong bounce pass with the ball rolling out of the baseline. Berline then converted an and-1 play on the other end and later slammed the door on Palacios past the midcourt line with the latter losing possession anew. A James Abuy triple from the left corner put icing on the cake and MDX went on to finish the 2012 season undefeated in eight games.
Art Trajano top-scored for MDX with 17 points, sparking the team's rally late in the first quarter. He came off the bench and scored six points, bringing MDX within nine at the end of the opening period, 12-21. LBT erected a 19-6 lead behind the 7 points of Ed Cosino, who was then held to three field goals for the remainder of the match.
Trajano kept on leading MDX's recovery in the second canto, scoring the team's first six markers and after playing catch up in the entire opening period, the defending champion finally grabbed the game's momentum in the last two minutes of the first half as LBT was slapped with two straight fouls.
The first one was Felix's Palacios' unsportsmanlike foul on a driving Bernard Montano and the second was a technical foul charged on Cosino for excessive complaining. Montano missed the two free throws, while Ariel Jinang made the two technical charities to tie the game, 29-all, and with MDX keeping possession, the latter got another two points off a layup for their first taste of the lead.
The first half ended with MDX on top, 33-29, and the game remained tight in the third with the opposing teams exchanging leads. After the third canto, MDX and LBT were back to square one, 51-all, but the latter blinked in the final half of the fourth canto to settle for runner-up honors.
MDX/Armatech 78 - Trajano 17, Moreno 16, Abuy 11, Berline 9, Jinang 6, Montano 6, Poquiz 4, Canedo 3,Gabaldon 2.
Bayani/LBT 62-Cosino 14, Diaz 13, Ocampo 13, Tiples 8, Pineda 7, J. Palacios 3, Bicera 2, De La Torre 2.
Scoring by quarters: 12-21, 33-29, 51-51, 78-62.