Palayan City Mayor Viandrei Nicole Cuevas prepares to make the ceremonial toss during the game between Nueva Ecija Capitals and Davao Occidental Tigers, while PSL Commissioner Allan Caidic and PSL President Cris Bautista look on. PSL photo
PALAYAN CITY — The Nueva Ecija Capitals dug deep to their pool of young talents to eke out a dramatic, come-from-behind 102-91 victory over the Davao Occidental Tigers Cocolife in overtime in the 2024 Pilipinas Super League (PSL) President’s Cup at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum.
Kriss Kelly Gurtiza and John Paul Maguliano shone brightest for the Capitals as they provided the clutch baskets in Nueva Ecija’s third straight win to the delight of a big home crowd that included Palayan City Mayor Viandrei Nicole Cuevas.
Gurtiza scored six of his 10 points in the extra period.
Maguliano, on the other hand, struck with a floater to tie the score at 87-all with only five seconds left following a jump ball forced by Axel Doromal on Riego Gamalinda, and send the game into overtime.
The win — the third in as many games — enabled the Capitals of businessman- sportsman Bong Cuevas and coach Jerson Cabiltes — to keep their unbeaten record in the tournament supervised by PBA legend-Commissioner Allan Caidic.
Nueva Ecija also defeated JT Taipan Toda Aksyon Bulacan, 109-67 victory at the FilOil EcoOil Arena in San Juan last Nov.25 and Alpha Omega Kings, 81-77, at the Caloocan Sports Complex last Nov. 28.
“Our team (Capitals) did not want to lose. The boys, especially to the young ones, showed big fighting heart, even if we’re down by 11 points in the last two minute. Lagi nga natin sinasabi sa mga players, just play hard until the final buzzer. It’s a miracle,”said Cabiltes.
“But I told the boys that we cannot satisfied with this comeback win. We cannot be down by double digits every time and expect to catch up. Hindi lahat ng game may miracle , so we need to continue to work on it. Team chemistry and everything. I think it’s a totally new team,”added Cabiltes.
“We want to go all the way and make the playoffs and make it to the top. We join in the PSL to compete and to win the championship.”
Will Mcaloney topscored for Nueva Ecija with 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in 28 minutes of action.
Bill Ray Robles added 15 points, Robby Celizcontributed 14 points and five rebounds, and Michael Juico, Roi Sumang, and Maguliano each contributed seven points.
The Capitals, also known as the Rice Vanguards in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), also got five points apiece from Michael Mabulac, Byron Vilarias and Doromal.
Justine Sanchez topscored for Davao Occidental with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds in 32 minutes of action, while Bonbon Custodio added 11 points, three rebounds and three assists in the losing effort.
Ryan Costelo chipped in 10 points, six assists and three rebounds, and Mark Olayon and Jun Manzo contributed nine points each.
Actually, the Tigers appeared headed to easy victory after taking an 87-76 advantage.
But after Gurtiza’s offensive rebound and putback narrowed the deficit to nine, 78-87, Davao’s Jeffrey Ryan Ongteco was called for a disqualifying foul for throwing the ball at Maguliano’s head with 1:04 remaining.
Villarias made two free throws, and Gurtiza added a lay-up to reduce the deficit to only five at 82-87 with 54 seconds left.
With 20 seconds left, Nueva Ecija forced a 24-second shot clock violation against Davao.The Capitals then called a timeout, and Vilarias executed a difficult quick turn-around three-pointer from the corner to threaten at 85-87.
Doromal later forced a jump ball against Gamalinda, and Maguliano made a floater to send the game into overtime, 87-all.
It was all Nueva Ecija in overtime.
The Capitals outscored the Tigers, 16-4, with Gurtiza leading the charge by contributing six points in the extra period.