ALCANTARA -- Shaquille Imperial had ice in his veins as he sank a three-pointer with 40 seconds remaining to stun the previously-unbeaten MJAS Zenith-Talisay City Aquastars, 67-66, in Game 1 of the best-of-three finals in the Visayas leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup on Friday night, May 7, at the Alcantara Civic Center in Alcantara, Cebu.
Imperial’s heroic shot rescued KCS from the jaws of defeat as they squandered an 11-point lead in the fourth period. KCS will try to capture the Visayas championship when tangle with MJAS anew in Game 2 on Saturday, 7 p.m.
With Talisay up by two, 66-64, after Darrell Shane Menina calmly made two free-throws, Imperial missed a triple, got the rebound and then, missed a short jumper. His confidence unshaken, Imperial got the ball back after an offensive rebound by Michole Sorela and sank a triple to push KCS ahead, 67-66.
Talisay had a shot at regaining the lead after big man Jhaymo Eguilos got fouled on their offensive. However, the center flubbed both freebies and Mandaue forward Dyll Roncal secured the rebound to give his team possession with 32 ticks to go.
On KCS next time down the court, Sorela clanked a short baseline jumper while fellow big man Bernie Bregondo missed a putback. Season MVP Jaymar Gimpayan came away with the loose ball with six seconds to go and oddly enough, did not call a timeout, leading skipper Paulo Hubalde to heave a hail mary of a three-pointer that hit nothing but air as time expired to hand Mandaue the pulse-pounding victory.
Imperial, the reigning Cesafi MVP, led Mandaue with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal while Gryann Mendoza had 15 points, 11 coming in the fourth when Mandaue threatened to blow the game wide open as they took a 62-51 lead, with 5:40 left.
Ping Exciminiano added 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals on top of playing incredible defense on Talisay’s cadre of perimeter threats.
Talisay, though, refused to give up and uncorked 11 straight points -- sparked by a couple of triples by Patrick Cabahug -- to tie things up at 62-all. However, they just could not get over the hump late in the game and saw their 10-game winning streak snapped. MJAS also did not do themselves any favors by shooting 22-of-40 from the charity stripe.
Cabahug led Talisay with 12 points while Menina chipped in 11.
KCS-Mandaue (67) -- Imperial 16, Mendoza 16, Exciminiano 10, Bregondo 7, Sorela 6, Delator 4, Roncal 4, Tamsi 3, Castro 0, Soliva 0, Octobre 0, Nalos 0, Mercader 0, Bongaciso 0
MJAS-Talisay (66) -- Cabahug 12, Menina 11, Eguilos 8, Villafranca 8, Gimpayan 7, Hubalde 6, Moralde 3, Mojica 3, Santos 2, Casajeros 2, Acuña 2, Jamon 2, Mabigat 0, Dela Cerna 0, Alvarez 0
QUARTERSCORES: 12-18, 27-32, 47-44, 67-66