PASIG CITY – Debuting Tanduay Light banked on AJ Mandani’s off-balanced reverse stab with three seconds remaining to eke out a 78-77 escape over MJM M-Builders-FEU at the resumption of action at the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Monday (November 3) at the Ynares Sports Arena. Cutting towards the hoop, Mandani received a crisp pass from Gab Banal and had to twist his body for the game-winner.
The cardiac ending temporarily set aside the brewing tug of war between both quintets for the services of forward Mac Belo, who decided to suit up for the Builders which has a tie-up with Far Eastern University. Belo claimed he had a previous verbal agreement with Tanduay, then known as Boracay Rum, that he would be released should FEU decide to field a D-League entry.
Interviewed after the game, Coach Lawrence Chongson explained that the final play was really diagramed for Mandani. “I leave it up to my management, what is important is that I have 14 players who are willing to fight and win for the team,” he said in conclusion.
Builders coach Nash Racela finally fielded Belo with 3:21 to go in the first period. For his part, FEU Athletics Director Mark Molina said they will just wait and see what Tanduay’s next move would be.
The Rhum Masters led by as much as 11 markers late in the third canto, 65-54. Still, the Builders rallied with Belo ironically forcing a 70-70 deadlock.
After several lead changes and deadlocks, Builder Glenn Khobuntin dashed down the court for a soaring layup plus a foul and the lead, 77-76, and 21 ticks to play. Unfortunately, Khobuntin missed his bonus free throw to set the stage for Mandani’s heroics.
Roi Sumang powered the Rhum Masters with 16 points and five assists. Leo de Vera followed with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Khobuntin led the Builders with 18 points and seven rebounds while Gelo Alolino added 16 points and five assists. Belo ended up with 13 markers, six in the fourth period as the Builders fell to their second straight loss in as many games.
Tanduay’s pulsating victory and its many side stories overshadowed the so-so debut of the highly touted Hapee Fresh Fighters as they slipped past the AMA University Titans, 69-61. In the day’s other game, the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants grabbed the provisional solo leadership by trouncing the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems, 63-61.
Perceived by pundits to blow away its opposition by double figures owing to its potent roster, the Fresh Fighters showed flashes of its vast potential by leading by as much as 20 points in the third period, 52-32, on a Garvo Lanete triple.
Suddenly, the Titans looked to bring out the upset axe as new signee Philip Paniamogan combined with Joseph Eriobu and Ivan Camasura to close in by only three points with four minutes to play, 59-62. Hapee countered with a closing 7-2 run powered by Ola Adeogun, Ray Parks and Scottie Thompson to put away their surprisingly tough foes.
“This team had only three days of preparation as a complete unit,” said winning coach Ronnie Magsanoc. The lack of cohesion was quite evident in Hapee’s early plays, with the players’ natural talent and individual skills bailing them out.
Troy Rosario came off the bench to pace Hapee with 12 points followed by Parks with 11 and Lanete with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Paniamogan led the Titans with 14 followed by Eriobu with 12.
Meanwhile, Jumbo Plastic turned to the torrid shooting of Dexter Maiquez down the stretch to become the first team to tally its second win. Maclean Sabellina started Jumbo’s final blitz with a three-point play followed by a Maiquez triple that gave them the lead for good, 54-53.
Sabellina added a basket followed by another by Mark Cruz for a more comfortable 58-53 cushion. Maiquez then swapped triples with Kevin Ferrer as the Gems slowly crept back.
Behind by three, 59-62, Ferrer missed the potential game-tying triple that was instead tipped in by Magi Sison with a second to play, 61-62. Allan Mangahas quickly fouled Cruz who sank a free throw for the final count.
Maiquez submitted seven of his team-best 14 points in the fourth period followed by Cruz with 10. Ferrer had nine of his 14 in the fourth period with Simon Enciso chipping in 10 points as the Gems leveled their win-loss card at 1-1.
How They Scored:
HAPEE (69) – Rosario 12, Parks 11, Lanete 10, Adeogun 7, de la Cruz 6, Amer 5, Thompson 5, Van Opstal 4, Newsome 4, Hayes 3, Long 2, Koga 0.
AMA COMPUTER (61) – Paniamogan 14, Erioubu 12, Camasura 8, Taganas 7, Olivarez 7, Purdy 4, Sabangan 4, Balucanag 2, Angeles 2, Macaranas 1, Calma 0, Jordan 0, Diswe 0.
Period Scores: 15-13, 41-28, 59-48, 69-61.
JUMBO PLASTIC (63) – Maiquez 14, Cruz 10, Heruela 9, Lozada 9, Sabellina 7, Terso 5, Rosales 4, Magat 3, Javier 2, Eguilos 0, Rios 0, Villamor 0.
CEBUANA LHUILLIER (61) – Ferrer 14, Enciso 10, Sison 8, A. Mangahas 6, Zamar 6, Guinto 6, Ciriacruz 4, Acibar 2, Torres 2, Sarangay 2, J. Mangahas 1, Villahermosa 0, Arellano 0.
Period Scores: 7-17, 26-28, 44-41, 63-61.
TANDUAY LIGHT (78) – Sumang 16, de Vera 15, Belencion 10, Banal 7, Mandani 6, Rono 6, Tagarda 5, Ignacio 4, Jumao-as 3, Santos 2, Ilagan 2, Foronda 2, Abrigo 0, de Leon 0.
MJM M-BUILDERS (77) – Khobuntin 18, Alolino 16, Belo 13, Tolomia 8, Pogoy 7, Javelona 5, Perez 4, Cruz 4, Jose 2, Alberto 0, Mendoza 0, Inigo 0, Neypes 0.
Period Scores: 16-17, 39-37, 65-56, 78-77.