Rial Polog Jr. became the first-ever two-time NBA 2K Asia champion after a thrilling 97-93 double-overtime victory over Clark Banzon in the NBA 2K19 Asia Tournament Finals.
Both players kicked off the championship game with tight defense, as they looked to deny each other shots from the three-point line. Rial showed his experience on the big stage early on, finishing the first quarter with a 15-12 lead. The pace picked up in the second quarter as Clark looked to catch up with a barrage of threes that Rial could do little to stop. The first half ended with Clark swishing a buzzer beating three to take the lead, 38-39.
The second half saw Clark take the reins, swishing three after three. While Rial’s defense was enough for him to have the lead at 54-52 heading into the final frame, the momentum was on Clark’s side.
It was clutch city for both players from there, as the fourth quarter saw them trading the lead heading into the final minute. Rial turned the ball over twice in crunch time, letting Clark get a three-point lead with seconds to go, but then Rial forced the first overtime of the match with a clutch three.
Overtime saw much of the same thing from both players, with the score tied and Clark with possession with seconds to go. Rial then put on a defensive showcase, forcing 2OT with a clutch block on what would have been a game-winning shot for Clark.
Rial’s experience and patience showed in 2OT, as he slowed the pace down to a grind that denied Clark from the quick three-pointers that had previously served him well. In the game-winning play, Rial found his big man open in the paint after Clark played tight on his perimeter shooters. With Clark’s entire defense scrambling to deny the easy basket inside, Rial passed the ball to a now-wide open shooter on the right corner, who swished a three to ice the game.
With his win, Rial took home the grand prize of $6 thousand, and is now the first two-time NBA 2K Asia Tournament champion after he won the NBA 2K16 tournament three years ago. This also marks the fourth-straight time that the Philippines has won the NBA 2K Asia Tournament.
Despite finishing in second place and winning $2,500, it was still an impressive run for Clark — who was actually the replacement for Philippe Alcaraz Herrero IV, who withdrew from the tournament for personal reasons.
Both playing under the banner of Playbook Esports, Rial and Clark placed in the Top 4 of the Finals round robin stage, which pit the finalists of the NBA 2K Asia Tournament Qualifiers from the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea against each other.
The two then secured their finals berth — as well as a fourth-straight NBA 2K Asia Tournament championship for the Philippines — by defeating the two other Top 4 players in the semifinals. Banzon defeated Lee Myung Hae from South Korea while Rial dispatched of Lee Chun Yin from Hong Kong.
Rial is looking to continue his success in NBA 2K as he has been selected as a prospect eligible to be picked in the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft on March 5.