QUEZON CITY – Rey Nambatac hit a corner triple at the buzzer to lift the MP Hotel Warriors over the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, 107-106, at the PBA D-League Foundation Cup Thursday (March 26) at the Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach (JCSGO) Gym. In the first game the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems stayed spotless by toppling the KeraMix Mixers in a meeting of tournament leaders, 95-88.
With three seconds to go, Jason Melano could only connect on the second of his two free throws to stretch the Suns’ lead, 106-104. Out of timeouts, Coach Louie Gonzalez signaled new recruit Rocky Acidre to bring down the ball, quickly passing it to Jan Colina at the top of their free throw circle who then spotted the open Nambatac for the game winner.
The last and only other time MP Hotel went home the winner was way back on October 30, 2014 against Wang’s Basketball, 87-70, their second game in the last Aspirants Cup. The team then lost their next nine games plus the first two games of the current Foundation Cup for a combined 11-game losing skid.
It was a gallant fight back for the Warriors from as high as 16 points down in the third period, 54-70. Jopher Custodio, Bong Quinto, Ping Masaglang and Nambatac took turns in trimming their deficit to a basket entering the final canto, 80-82.
Their patience finally paid off with Quinto and Custodio hitting back-to-back field goals to tie the game for the last time at the 1:20 mark, 103-103. Melano would counter with a basket of his own and the Warriors could only cringe as Quinto split his charities to trail by a hair, 104-105, thus forcing them to foul Melano in a gambit that paid off.
“The team entered into a partnership with Letran so we can help each other,” said Coach Gonzalez. “The young players from Letran did well today and this is a good sign for the future of the team.”
Custodio showed the way for the Warriors with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Quinto followed with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Melano, Michael Mabulac and Abel Galliguez paced the Rising Suns with 21 markers each. Melano also hauled 14 rebounds to go with four steals as the Rising Suns leveled their win-loss card at 1-1.
The expected slam bang encounter between two undefeated teams fizzled out as the Gems jumped the gun on the Mixers to easily take the first period and never looked back, 23-11. Moala Tautuaa set the tone early with 11 points in the first and Simon Enciso came off the bench to pump in 15 points in the second for a commanding 55-25 Gems edge at halftime.
Still, the Mixers gave it their best effort behind Keith Agovida, Jiovani Jalalon, Marte Gil and Jamil Gabawan to close in late in the fourth period, 80-90. However, Paul Zamar hit a triple to snuff the Mixers’ further rally aspirations, 93-80.
Gems coach David Zamar was not satisfied with their third win in a row and called out his players for their inconsistent second half that allowed KeraMix to get back in the contest. “We need to have convincing victories and we must not take any of our opponents lightly,” said Coach Zamar.
Tautuaa and Enciso topped the Gems with 24 points each. Tautuaa also grabbed 10 rebounds and issued five assists while Enciso sank an impressive seven three-point shots from nine attempts.
Agovida submitted 11 of his team-best 19 points in the fourth period on top of five rebounds and two assists. Jalalon was next with 14 points but went scoreless in the fourth period.
How They Scored:
CEBUANA LHUILLIER (95) – Enciso 24, Tautuaa 24, Zamar 13, A. Mangahas 11, Torres 8, Acibar 6, Corpuz 5, Vosotros 4, Marata 0, J. Mangahas 0, Bautista 0, Lopez 0, Sarangay 0.
KERAMIX (88) – Agovida 19, Jalalon 14, Gil 10, Saitanan 10, Gabawan 7, DiGregorio 7, Viernes 6, Parala 6, Canta 5, Bartolo 2, Ruaya 2, Sinco 0, Jamito 0, Robles 0.
Period Scores: 23-11, 55-25, 85-58, 95-88.
MP HOTEL (107) – Custodio 27, Quinto 19, Nambatac 17, Acidre 16, Masaglang 12, Calvo 6, Mendoza 6, Colina 2, Escosio 2, Magat 0, Luib 0.
CAGAYAN VALLEY (106) – Melano 21, Mabulac 21, Galliguez 21, Celada 14, Trollano 13, Austria 7, Tayongtong 4, Rogado 3, Dilay 2, Flores 0, Santos 0, Arquero 0.
Period Scores: 17-26, 42-48, 80-82, 107-106.