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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. – Rappler.com