Hoops Project upstage Born Ballers, remain spotless in Inter Pick-up tourney


by Jonas Egan Reyes, published February 18, 2020

Revving up their engine in the second half, Hoops Project claimed their third straight victory in the 2020 Kings of the Court Inter Pick-up Invitationals, outclassing the Born Ballers, 74-66, Sunday inside The Upper Deck Lifestyle Center in Ortigas.

Behind 39-29 in the second quarter, Hoops Project slowly climbed back into the match behind the trio of Evan Brondial, Issei Sugiyama and Steven Rabanal. After a Cyrus Contreras three-pointer in the 2:06 mark of the third period put Hoops Project ahead 55-53, the white shirts took control of the remainder of the ballgame to keep their pristine win-loss record after three starts intact.

In the final frame, Hoops Project kept their foot on the gas pedal as Brondial carried on with his scoring explosion. Back to back triples from Brondial gave Hoops Project a 68-59 advantage in the final 7:12. With 5:45 remaining in the contest, John Yeates knocked down a jumper that pushed Hoops Project to its biggest lead at 12, 72-60.

Free throws from AJ Figueroa drew the Born Ballers to within six in the final 42 seconds, but Hoops Project’s lead just proved to be insurmountable in the payoff period.

Sugiyama led all scorers with 19 points, draining four of his 9 three-point attempts. Brondial turned in a dominant 16-point, 11-rebound double-double performance, while Rabanal chipped in 11 markers.

Former UP Fighting Maroon Vic Epres tallied 16 points for the Born Ballers, who absorbed their second defeat in three games. Figueroa and Rambo Ortega contributed 15 points apiece.