QUEZON CITY – Santa Lucia Realty secured the twice-to-beat advantage in the coming Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) Founders Cup Playoffs by slipping past a game Euro-Med Laboratories, 71-67, in games completed Tuesday (November 24) at the Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach Gym. The win was the Realtors’ sixth in 10 games and they now await the results of the remaining games to determine their playoff opponent.
“We got what we wanted,” said Coach Boni Garcia. “However, I told the players that they should not think about having the twice-to-beat advantage and treat every game as if it was a knockout game.”
Scoreless in the first half, Mac Montilla broke his silence and exploded for 20 points and powered the Realtors to a 13-point edge entering the final two minutes, 67-54. However, Euro-Med made the contest exciting as it was the turn of Mar Villahermosa to unleash his offense via three straight triples to threaten, 63-68.
The Euro-Med defense forced Santa Lucia to earn all their points from the free throw line. Paul Zamar then scored a basket and Samboy de Leon quickly intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass for an easy stab to put Euro-Med at their closest with six ticks to go, 67-70.
Montilla was fouled and fittingly capped his performance with one more free throw for his 21st point. The Realtors then preserved the win by breaking up Euro-Med’s final possession, dribbling the final five seconds away.
Guard Kent Salado also shone for Santa Lucia with 11 points and eight rebounds. Wowie Escosio was next with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Villahermosa paced Euro-Med with 15 of his 23 points in the fourth period. Jam Cortes was the only other teammate in twin digits with 12 points on top of eight rebounds.
Euro-Med finished the classification round with an even 5-5 win-loss card. Most likely, they will face the winner of Thursday’s Cagayan-Kama Motors tussle in a virtual best-of-three series between the fourth and fifth seeds.
Meanwhile, Caida Tiles formalized their acquisition of the top seeding by pulverizing cellar-dweller Supremo Lex-Builders-OLFU, 94-65. The Tilemasters (7-3) will tangle anew with the same Builders (3-7) in the playoffs enjoying the twice-to-beat advantage.
Caida took an early 5-4 lead en route to taking the opening period, 24-14, and never looked back as starters Joseph Terso, Ford Ruaya and Jan Jamon combined for 17 points. The lead swelled to as much as 37 markers late in the fourth period, 90-53, but a spirited run allowed the Builders to pare down the final margin.
Jackson Corpuz led Caida with 15 points, 13 submitted in the second half. Jordan Rios came off the bench to pump in a personal high of 14 points, his first time to hit twin figures since making 12 in their opening day win over Foton Toplander last October 11.
Jason Escueta tried his best to carry the team with 19 points and nine rebounds followed by Jaypee Belencion with 11. The Builders missed the services of top scorers Joseph Gabayni and Joseph Marquez who average a combined 25.0 points per game.
The final day of the classification round will be this Thursday (November 26) at JCSGO. Jumbo Plastic plays Foton Toplander at 4:00 PM followed by Kama Motors against Cagayan at 6:00 PM.
How They Scored:
SANTA LUCIA (71) – Montilla 21, Salado 11, Escosio 10, Vidal 7, Bautista 7, Onwubere 5, Wetherell 4, Sarangay 4, Ilagan 2, Camasura 0, Castanarez 0, Ablaza 0, Gabriel 0, Celiz 0.
EURO-MED (67) – Villahermosa 23, Cortes 12, Llagas 8, Custodio 8, de Leon 7, Cruz 3, Jeruta 2, Zamar 2, Abundo 2, Galanza 0, Santos 0.
Period Scores: 13-16, 29-28, 48-46, 71-67.
CAIDA TILES (94) – Corpuz 15, Rios 14, Ruaya 12, Lozada 8, Gabawan 7, Terso 7, Jamon 7, Jalalon 7, Hayes 6, Robles 6, Almario 2, Leynes 2, Maiquez 1.
SUPREMO LEX-OLFU (65) – Escueta 19, Belencion 11, Bitoon 9, Yaya 8, Santos 6, Importante 5, Teodoro 3, Bargola 2, Juanico 2, Olondriz 0, Cabrera 0.
Period Scores: 24-14, 46-30, 72-47, 94-65.