Valientes The Zamboanga Valientes pose for posterity.

Valientes in second win

April 25, 2024 People's Tonight 183 views

FRANKY Johnson waxed hot as the Zamboanga Valientes fended off fellow Filipino squad Pola Pilipinas RPG, 98-88, for its second win in the opening leg of The Asian Tournament, in Guangdong, China.

Johnson, a former PBA standout, took charge for the Valientes, firing 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, including five three-pointers, in almost 24 minutes of action off the bench to help his side advance further in the final phase.

Imports Malick Diouf and Nick Evans also came up big for Zamboanga. The former registered a monster double-double of 16 points and 20 boards while the latter had an all-around performance of 15 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and three blocks.

Homegrown standouts Mike Tolomia and Peter Alfaro added 11 points each to round out the double-digit scorers for the squad.

The Valientes, armed with an 80-48 advantage entering the fourth quarter, almost collapsed after Pola initiated a searing 32-10 run, which sliced a 32-point advantage to just 10 points, 90-80, with less than two minutes in the game.

However, Diouf and Evans connived with the former scoring on two free throw attempts and the latter delivering a booming triple with 44.9 seconds left to give Zamboanga a 15-point, 95-80 cushion.

Pola managed to trim it down to eight points after two freebies from Joseph Marquez with 12.8 ticks left in a last-ditch attempt to steal the game, but it was not enough as the Valientes ran away with the victory, only their second in the tournament.

Zamboanga broke the game wide open late in the first quarter, with Tolomia, Alfaro, Evans, and Johnson anchoring the Valientes’ 33-12 start which buried Pola early in the match.

Riding the crest of their red-hot performance in the opener, the Valientes turned it up a notch come the second frame.