Senate launched its title bid in style, rallying from a huge 16-point deficit in the first quarter to beat National Housing Authority, 86-80 at the start of the 9th UNTV Cup Monday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Before some 11,000 spectators, Mark Anthony Marcos presided over the Defenders’ furious comeback by scattering a game-high 27 points on a respectable 12-of-19 shooting from the field. He also had three assists and the same number of rebounds.
UNTV President and CEO Dr. Daniel Razon was elated with the turnout, saying all their sacrifices and effort to stage the return of the tournament designed for public servants did not go to waste.
The event – shelved for two years due to Covid outbreak – offers a tax-free P3 million prize to the chosen charity of the champion team.
Supplying the much-needed firepower were Harry Petillos and Clard Torrente who logged 18 and 16 points, respectively, while Michael Omega and James Mangaran provided the muscles down low, combining for 25 of the team’s 47 rebounds.
Mentored by Mike Fermin, the Defenders started cold, falling behind 27-11, but made several offensive spurts to take a 63-60 lead going into the final 10 minutes of play.
NHA, led by veteran Alvin Vitug, tried for one last time to make a run but to no avail. Tony Lustestica and Vitug tallied 22 points each.