MALOLOS CITY – Euro-Med Laboratories once again drew stellar games from its veteran guards to frustrate Santa Lucia Realty, 83-75, at the 2016 Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) Chairman’s Cup at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center. This as Mighty Sports continued its rampage on a hapless Supremo Lex Builders-OLFU, 75-62, to remain undefeated in seven starts and become the first team to clinch a berth in next month’s playoffs.
Jopher Custodio typified Euro-Med’s strong start by unloading nine points and Eric Salamat and Alex Almario added five more each as they raced to a 26-8 lead. Stepping up the attack, Ola Adeogun dominated the inside and Gwyne Capacio came off the bench to keep their distance by halftime, 46-28.
Santa Lucia’s campaign hit a roadblock as Nicole Bangga was thrown out for committing two unsportsmanlike fouls on Adeogun with 56 seconds left in the second period. At the time of his banishment, Bangga was the Realtors’ top performer with six points and three rebounds.
Slowly but surely, Santa Lucia ate into Euro-Med’s lead, finally cracking the double-digit barrier in the fourth period on a basket by Kent Salado, 54-63. However, Eric Salamat quickly defused the rally with a pair of triples against another Salado field goal, 66-64.
Euro-Med maintained their advantage until the Realtors scored nine straight points to come to their closest, 72-78, and 1:33 remaining. Custodio saved the day with a backbreaking triple followed by another field goal to give Euro-Med an unassailable 83-72 cushion with 41 ticks to play.
“The instruction was to support whoever was hot by giving him the ball and setting screens and today it was Eric and Jopher,” said Coach Yong Garcia. “We had a good practice the other day and we carried it into today’s game.”
Since revamping their roster, Euro-Med is now on a three-game winning roll for a 3-4 record in a triple tie with idle Jumbo Plastic and Foton Toplander. Custodio led all scorers with 21 points and 13 rebounds while Salamat followed with 14 points and seven assists.
Jam Jamito paced Santa Lucia with 14 points and seven rebounds. JR Cawaling added 12 points, all coming from the three-point line as the Realtors snapped their two-game winning streak and remained at solo second place at 4-3.
For a while, the second game did not look anything like the expected mismatch between the undefeated leader and the tail ender as Supremo Lex managed to stay toe to toe with Mighty ahead by a mere point after three period. Feeling his way through the first three periods, debuting Kevin Ferrer finally gave the fans a taste of what he can do as he made nine of his 11 points to power Mighty’s breakaway.
The defense did their work and held the Builders sans a field goal for almost six minutes as Mighty erected their biggest lead, 67-52. Supremo Lex countered with an 8-0 blast but Ferrer and Kiefer Ravena played firemen combining in a similar 8-0 blitz to ice the contest with 12 ticks left on the clock.
“Clinching an early playoff berth reminds us that we must not relax and continue to push each other,” said Coach Mike Fermin. “We have a big bullseye on our backs and the other teams are definitely out to take us down so I give credit to the fighting spirit of our team.”
Ravena and Bright Akhuetie continued to be Mighty’s one-two punch by delivering 18 points each with Akhuetie hauling 15 rebounds. Ferrer was unable to play last time against Biyaheng SCTEX due to lack of documents.
King Importante led Supremo Lex with a tournament personal best of 13 points and nine rebounds. Also chipping in twin digits were Mark Montuano with 11 and Mark Brana with 10 as the Builders’ losing skid now stretched to six games.
The games return to Marikina City on Wednesday (April 13) with Biyaheng SCTEX opening its second round schedule against Jumbo Plastic at 7:00 PM. The opener at 5:00 PM is between Santa Lucia and Foton Toplander.
How They Scored:
EURO-MED (83) – Custodio 21, Salamat 14, Adeogun 13, Capacio 10, Almario 9, Alvarez 6, Parala 6, Saitanan 4, Salcedo 0, Galanza 0, Poligrates 0, Tajonera 0.
SANTA LUCIA (75) – Jamito 14, Cawaling 12, Eze 9, Salado 9, Romero 7, Bangga 6,Javelona 5, Bautista 5, Escosio 3, Vidal 2, Gabriel 2, Ilagan 1, Camasura 0, Castanarez 0.
Period Scores: 26-8, 46-28, 58-43, 83-75.
MIGHTY SPORTS (75) – Akhuetie 18, Ravena 18, Ferrer 11, Mangahas 6, A. Bringas 6, Lopez 5, Banal 4, Celada 3, Montilla 2, Melocoton 2, Regalado 0, Wongchuking 0, M. Bringas 0.
SUPREMO LEX-OLFU (62) – Importante 13, Montuano 11, Brana 10, Leynes 9, Laminou 6, Jamon 6, Acidre 5, Cabrera 2, Juanico 0, Datu 0, Villamin 0.
Period Scores: 25-18, 36-35, 75-62.