Meralco’s poise and experience proved too much for rookie team J&T Express to overcome as the Bolts pulled off a 19-14 win and claim the Leg 3 championship of the Philippine Basketball Association 3×3 First Conference Season 2 Sunday at Robinson’s Place in Las Piñas.
Alfred Batino and Leo de Vera came through for the Bolts and sparked a late 7-1 run that took the fight out of the Express.
Meralco trailed by a point when Batino and De Vera took charge and put the Bolts in front for good, 15-10.
The win gave the Bolts the top prize of P100,000 and avenged their overtime loss in the finals of the opening leg opposite TNT Tropang Giga.
The Express took home P50,000 in their best finish yet three legs into their maiden season in the standalone tournament.
Cavitex gained some measure of pride after scoring a 21-13 win over TNT to take third place.
The podium finish was worth P30,000 for the Braves.
The Express and Bolts earlier pulled off separate thrilling wins in the semifinals.
Robert Datu and Robin Rono teamed up to score 14 points as the Express denied Cavitex a second straight leg finals appearance behind an 18-17 stunner.
It was the first finals appearance for the rookie team in only its third leg campaign in the tournament.
The Bolts, meanwhile, leaned on De Vera and Batino to get even against the Tropang Giga, who beat them in overtime to claim the crown in the opening leg.
De Vera and Batino combined for 11 points and 12 rebounds in the close 16-15 win.
At the start of the knockout stage, Meralco booted out Barangay Ginebra, 15-13, TNT knocked off top seed Pioneer Elastoseal Katibays, 21-17, J&T Express ousted San Miguel, 20-16, and Cavitex dismissed Platinum Karaoke, 20-14.
In the classification matches, NorthPort scored one over Terrafirma, 21-15, while Blackwater turned back Purefoods TJ Titans, 20-17.