QUEZON CITY – The AMA University Titans did their part to have a shot at the playoffs by blasting the MP Hotel Warriors, 99-87, as the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup entered its homestretch at the Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach Gym Thursday (May 21). Ending their campaign with a 4-5 win-loss card, the Titans are just out of the picture at Seventh Place but could still make it depending on the results of the remaining four games.
Coming off a two-week break, the Titans jumped the gun on the Warriors and turned the game into a shootout and leading after the first period, 26-23. Despite using only an eight-player rotation, AMA continued to pour it on and the tally had jacked up to 53-46 by halftime.
By then, the Warriors began to crank up their defense and managed to stay within striking distance. A Jan Colina basket followed by back-to-back hits by Mark Cruz restored to the lead back to MP Hotel at the end of the third, 71-70.
AMA recovered their bearings in time with James Martinez tying the count at 74-74 and Dexter Maiquez hitting the go-ahead shot at the 7:30 mark, 76-74. From there, Jarelan Tampus took over and combined with Martinez in a pivotal 7-0 that stretched AMA’s lead to 87-79 with 2:45 on the clock.
The Titans were not yet finished as they tried to add on to their lead. Martinez fittingly capped his hot shooting with his sixth triple at the buzzer to settle the final score.
“At least we improved by getting our fourth win compared to the last Aspirants Cup where we only had three wins,” said Coach Mark Herrera. “Our destiny is not in our hands so we will just wait and pray.”
The 28 points of Martinez was the most by any Titan in the tournament. Maiquez chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Rey Nambatac paced the Warriors with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Khasim Mirza followed with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Apparently, the Titans’ collective prayers were not heard as the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants made short work of the LiverMarin Guardians in the day’s second game, 87-66. The Giants moved half a game ahead of the Titans at 4-4 in a tie with the idle KeraMix Mixers at Fifth and Sixth Place.
All the Giants needed was a telling 10-0 run in the first period started by Jaymo Eguilos followed by eight straight points by Philip Paniamogan and it was an all-Jumbo Plastic show hence, 14-5.
Silent in the middle two periods after his opening explosion, Paniamogan found his range anew at the start of the final canto as he combined with Dennice Villamor to give the Giants their biggest lead of the contest, 74-58, and 5:30 remaining.
Paniamogan knocked in three triples en route to 15 points in the fourth to hike his total to 23 points on top of five rebounds and three assists. Villamor made nine of his 16 points in the fourth to go with 10 rebounds and six assists.
“I will be happy if we make the quarterfinals after all the injuries and roster changes that affected our team’s performance,” said Coach Stevenson Tiu. “The key is for the players to maintain their intensity and aggression in our last game.”
AMA’s hopes now hinge on the Tanduay Light Rhum Masters (3-5) beating the Mixers on May 28 and make the playoffs via the quotient system. A win by the Mixers will boot out the Titans regardless of the outcome of the Giants-Warriors tussle.
How They Scored:
AMA (99) – Martinez 28, King 20, Maiquez 16, Taganas 14, Tampus 12, Jordan 5, Camasura 2, Asuncion 2.
MP HOTEL (87) – Nambatac 22, Mirza 13, Colina 11, de la Pena 11, Acidre 9, Cruz 7, Quinto 7, Mendoza 2, Apreku 2, Luib 2, Custodio 1, Calvo 0.
Period Scores: 26-23, 53-46, 70-71, 99-87.
JUMBO PLASTIC (87) – Paniamogan 23, Villamor 16, Avillanoza 12, Mandani 8, Eguilos 6, Almario 5, Tiongson 4, Khobuntin 4, Perez 4, Sanga 3, Purdy 2, Arellano 0.
LIVERMARIN (66) – Guinto 17, Calisaan 13, Ignacio 8, Costelo 7, de la Cruz 5, Fabian 4, Marcus 3, Ortuoste 3, Bangga 2, de Vera 2, Santos 2, Laude 0.
Period Scores: 15-11, 36-33, 61-44, 87-66.