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Gilas Pilipinas sweeps MVP Cup after turning back Chinese Taipei

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Andray Blatche posted 18 points and 12 rebounds and Gilas Pilipinas dispatched Chinese Taipei, 90-77, to become champion of the 2015 MVP Cup on Sunday, September 13 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Philippine national men's basketball team did not drop a single game in the 4-nation pocket tournament – their last before the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.

Gilas previously defeated Talk 'N Text and New Zealand's Wellington Saints. The team won USD *25,000.

"It was successful," head coach Tab Baldwin assessed his team's MVP Cup performance. "Not just because we ended up winning it but because we got good challenges. We got tough games and we played different styles of basketball in all 3 games."

Asi Taulava registered 13 points including 6 rebounds and Terrence Romeo added 12 markers on top of 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Calvin Abueva came off the bench and chipped in 11 points, 6 rebounds nad two steals.

Jayson Castro sat out the game to rest a hurting right big toe, which he said was stepped on during the South Korea and Wellington Saints games in the William Jones Cup. Gary David took his place and chipped in 3 points.

"For us I think there was a lot of benefit to come out of the tournament and we're obviously thrilled with the result," Baldwin said. "We look forward to the second MVP Cup next year and have the opportunity to defend the title now."

The Taiwanese, whom Gilas also defeated in the William Jones Cup, inched to within 8, 83-75, after knocking down 3 straight triples. They were trailing significantly for most of the contest.

But Ranidel De Ocampo doused cold water on their rally with a booming trey of his own to re-establish an 86-75 advantage and re-take control with under 4 minutes remaining.

Lu Cheng-Ju dropped 23 points off the bench on 6 3-pointers. Chen Shih-Chieh and Liu Cheng had 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Chinese Taipei failed to win a game in the MVP Cup and finished in fourth place. The Saints came in at second while Talk 'N Text settled for third.

The FIBA Asia Championship begins September 23 in China. – Rappler.com

*USD 1 = Php 46.72 as of posting time