MARIKINA CITY – An eight-man Foton Toplander got the better of an also shorthanded Santa Lucia Realty, 86-72, at the resumption of the 2016 Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) Chairman’s Cup Wednesday (April 13) at the Marikina Sports Center. Later in the day, Jumbo Plastic turned to their defense to plaster Biyaheng SCTEX, 68-60.
As both sides played cautiously due to manpower shortages, Foton staged the game’s first major breakaway as they went on an 11-0 tear behind Cedric Ablaza, Marvin Moraga and Ed Rivera in the third period for a 51-45 advantage. Overall, Foton scattered 32 markers in the pivotal third as they led for good entering the final period, 66-55.
Rivera would then push the Toplander on top by 14 early in the fourth period, 72-58, but the Realtors continued to grind and chip away at their deficit. However, the best Santa Lucia could do was close in by eight points entering the final two minutes, 79-71, after two free throws from Jun Gabriel and a field goal by Wowie Escosio.
“Honestly, we felt no pressure before the game because we had nothing to lose,” said Coach Jonathan Reyes. “Again, as long as the players follow our system, we will be okay.”
Ablaza, who played for Santa Lucia in last year’s Founder’s Cup, notched a game-high 25 points on top of three rebounds and three assists followed by Marlon Gomez with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Rivera (14 points and 11 rebounds) and Jerrick Nacpil (13 points and 10 rebounds) submitted double-doubles while Moraga dished out 13 assists while scoring eight points.
Foton is now on a two-game winning run despite Levi Hernandez (heel), Mikee Reyes (knee) and Ibrahim Ouattara (tonsillitis) hampered by assorted injuries and ailments. In their first meeting last March 11, Foton beat Santa Lucia, 70-62.
Jerald Bautista paced the Realtors with 20 points while Gabriel had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Santa Lucia missed team scoring leader Kent Salado who joined Foton’s Allen Enriquez and Arellano University for a tournament in Leyte and Nichole Bangga who was suspended by Commissioner Joel Banal for his two unsportsmanlike fouls on Euro-Med’s Ola Adeogun last Sunday (April 10).
SCTEX unveiled new import Steve Cedric Akomo from the University of the Visayas, who replaced his fellow Nigerian Jeffakins Aguara, and swingman Christopher Sumalinog. The latest additions made a quick impact but their stellar numbers meant below-average performances from the rest of the team.
Mustafa Arafat may have scored a single field goal only but it was very important as it put the Linoleum Giants ahead for good with two minutes to go in the second period and ignited a 7-0 run for a 34-28 halftime count. The defense held SCTEX scoreless for the first four minutes of the fourth period as Stephen Siruma, James Martinez and Jeff Alvin Viernes combined to give Jumbo its biggest lead, 59-41.
Sumalinog went on to score 10 of his 17 points in the fourth period, capped by a triple with 38 seconds left that put SCTEX at their closest, 58-64. Viernes stopped the threat with two free throws and a basket to sew up fourth win in eight starts and arrest their two-game losing skid.
Martinez and Viernes powered Jumbo’s onslaught with 18 and 13 points respectively. Jay-R Taganas typified Jumbo’s defense with 13 rebounds and two steals to go with five points.
Akomo finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds in 34 minutes of play as he tried to make up for the absence of top scorer and rebounder Raul Soyud who was in uniform but was not fielded by Coach Adonis Tierra due to a cut on the eyebrow incurred during practice. No other Road Warrior submitted twin digits as they fell to their third straight defeat and a 3-4 win-loss card.
Mighty Sports (7-0) stakes its perfect record against Jumbo his Friday (April 15) at Marikina starting at 7:00 PM. The opening game pits streaking Euro-Med (3-4) against a struggling Supremo Lex-OLFU (1-6) at 5:00 PM.
How They Scored:
FOTON TOPLANDER (86) – Ablaza 25, Gomez 21, Rivera 14, Nacpil 13, Moraga 8, Ouattara 5, Penaflor 0, Mallari 0.
SANTA LUCIA (72) – Bautista 20, Gabriel 11, Escosio 10, Eze 9, Cawaling 9, Javelona 5, Ilagan 3, Romero 2, Jamito 2, Camasura 1, Vidal 0, Castanarez 0.
Period Scores: 16-15, 34-33, 66-55, 86-72.
JUMBO PLASTIC (68) – Martinez 18, Viernes 13, Eguilos 8, Siruma 8, Bitoon 7, Taganas 5, Arellano 3, Santos 2, Ibay 2, Arafat 2.
BIYAHENG SCTEX (60) – Sumalinog 17, Akomo 15, Raymundo 6, Reyes 6, del Rosario 4, Hermida 4, Villarias 3, Pangilinan 3, Batino 2, Susaya 0, Vitug 0.
Period Scores: 17-17, 34-28, 52-41, 68-60.