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Cheesecake Factory end up second as Kalexco Extruders in 3rd place KEC bag PBLK inter-company crown

KUWAIT CITY, July 15: Kuwait Energy Company (KEC) were crowned Philippine Basketball League of Kuwait (PBLK) inter-company division basketball tournament season-2 champions after lifting the trophy for the second consecutive season having recently clinched a slim 78-77 victory against The Cheesecake Factory in the finals at the Al Arabi Sports Club in Mansouriya. Ace forward and game MVP Khaled Toledo finished with 34 points along with six assists in the KEC win, as the energy specialists ruled the game in the first half, made the most of their early momentum to stay ahead of the opposition as the best-of-eight PBLK inter-company series grinds to an end. Marlon Batino and Putungan added 16 and 12 points apiece to the KEC counter.

Borj Alisbo paced the Cheesecake’s loss with an impressive game-high 36 points including five 3-pointers, eight rebounds and ten assists. He scored nine of his 36 points in the final quarter even as Cheesecake was under a barrage of shots from the opposition in the round. Featuring regularly in PBLK series games and famous for his flair in delivering 3-pointers, Alisbo connected on five of his six shot attempts in the third round as the Cheesecake squad managed to keep KEC at bay to end the round 23-16, cancelling out KEC’s 7-point lead to keep both sides at 53-53 standoff at the end of the third.

The final round saw a determined attempt by Toledo and Batino to tip the scales on the opposition as the Kuwait Energy duo strung the ball into the Cheesecake half of the court, igniting a melee in the process. Toledo got shoved to the floor as he was bound for a 2-pointer. He connected both shots from the resultant free throw to push KEC score inching up to 76-74.  Alisbo and Bumagat joined the last minute rampage on KEC’s defenses but could hardly make any more headway as the energy specialists had decided to redeploy all their personnel to defend their 1-point advantage to the finish. Despite the determined fight, Cheesecake finally lost the game, 77-78 at the buzzer.

Toledo set the tone of the game by scoring 8 points in the first quarter including four steals. He made 34 despite making 2- of -8 in 3-pointers. Cheesecake turned the ball over seven times leading to 12 points for KEC in the first half. KEC made a tactical change to their game following a double timeout two minutes into the third round. Alisbo and Bumagat soon found themselves leading a swift Cheesecake rally in the final half of the contest. As his teammates set up around the 3-point arc, Bumagat simply blew through open lanes to the basket repeatedly in the early moments of the third quarter extending the crackdown into the final stretch.

A summary of winners and awardees in the Inter-Company championship finals run as below:

* Champion — Kuwait Energy Company

* 1st Runner Up — The Cheesecake Factory

* 2nd Runner Up — Kalexco Extruders

* 3rd Runner Up — Banta

* Season MVP — Khaled Toledo of KEC

The tournament’s Mythical five players received their awards individually presented to them by PBLK officials in recognition of their outstanding performance. They include Borj Alisbo, Khaled Toledo, Marlon Batino, Makki Anis and Rick Bumagat. KEC Coach Joey Hermostura was anointed best of the season. Also in the opening game of the season-3 inter- company series, Ebomac trounced Kuwait Steel 76-62 on the back of Gerali’s 33 points. 

Meanwhile, in the contest for the third and fourth place of the tournament, Kalexco Extruders won 78-72 against Banta Company. Abra Vocalan and Ferdie Cortez contributed 25 and 23 points apiece in the Kalexco win. The Banta side was paced by Joe Casuga and Rey who finished with 15 points each. On the other hand, LDJ Ilonggo drubbed El Paneros 82-73 in the first of the 5’8” division clashes of the weekend while Bad Bananas outpaced Marco Vincent 89-78 in the second game of the series.

By Iddris Seidu

Arab Times Staff


By: Iddris Seidu

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