Jones Cup

Undefeated UC Irvine destroys Rain or Shine by 54 to rule 2023 Jones Cup

JR Isaga

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Undefeated UC Irvine destroys Rain or Shine by 54 to rule 2023 Jones Cup

LAYUP. Andrei Caracut in action for Rain or Shine in the 2023 William Jones Cup.

William Jones Cup

US NCAA Division I team UC Irvine wraps up the 2023 William Jones Cup with an average winning margin of 44 points, lastly burying hapless Rain or Shine to officially seal the gold-medal finish

MANILA, Philippines – The University of California Irvine Anteaters barged into Taiwan and marched out as unscathed champions of the 2023 William Jones Cup following a 115-61 send-off shellacking of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Sunday, August 20.

Five Americans breached double-digit scoring in what was essentially a no-bearing contest, with Derin Saran’s 23-point outing in 22 minutes leading the way. Emilis Butkus scored 18 in just 19 minutes, while Devin Tillis added 16 points on a 4-of-6 clip from three in just 15 minutes.

It was a dominant showing from start to finish, as UC Irvine set the tone with a huge 26-6 opening period and never let up until the final buzzer, still stretching the gap past the 50-point mark and peaking with 54 with the game all but decided in the final minutes.

Andrei Caracut was Rain or Shine’s lone double-digit scorer in its most lopsided loss of the tournament with 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting.

Gian Mamuyac and Beau Belga chipped in 9 points apiece, while reinforcement Ange Kouame was held to just 8 points on a 2-of-11 clip with a brutal plus-minus of -53.

Longtime holders of US NCAA Division I status, UC Irvine demolished the Jones Cup field by an average winning margin of 44 points, with its closest victory being an 87-82 squeaker over reigning Korean Basketball League (KBL) champion Anyang KGC.

The Anteaters stormed out of the gates red-hot, annihilating Qatar in their debut game by 67, 105-38, before burying the UAE national team by 60, 109-49.

The Filipino side fell behind the pack early with multiple close losses, including stunning setbacks to UAE and Qatar to cap off a 0-4 slide before breaking through against Iran’s Team B in double overtime.

Rain or Shine only enjoyed a comfortable margin against a Japan side only fielding Under-22 projects, eventually cruising to its second and final win.

With a 2-6 record, the Elasto Painters finished seventh place in the nine-team field, four years after the last Jones Cup was ruled by Mighty Sports-Philippines. –

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