MALOLOS CITY – Mighty Sports officially clinched the top playoff seeding of the 2016 Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) Chairman’s Cup after a sound beating of Santa Lucia Realty, 92-85, Sunday (April 24) at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center for their ninth win in 10 games. With two games to play on their schedule, Mighty has an unassailable three-game lead over closest pursuers Biyaheng SCTEX, which routed Foton Toplander in the first game, 91-60, and idle Jumbo Plastic.
“Being the top seed is a bonus because our small goal at the start was just to make the semifinals,” said Coach Mike Fermin. “We struggled at first when forming the team but the players really worked hard and they deserve this.”
Kiefer Ravena was all over the court as he and Bright Akhuetie took turns at keeping Mighty in control in the first half with Ravena scoring a triple at the halftime buzzer, 48-38. The Realtors led by Jerald Bautista and Nichole Bangga fought gamely in the third canto, taking the lead on several occasions as Mighty hung tough with a slim 68-67 advantage.
Jett Vidal then tied the count for the last time, 79-79, but Mighty had a ready answer with John Lopez hitting a free throw followed by a backbreaking triple by Allan Mangahas at the four-minute mark, 83-79 Lopez and Mangahas would maintain their distance until Ravena delivered the knockout triple with still 1:22 to play, 92-83.
However, Coach Fermin confirmed that their superstar player has sought permission to attend training camps in the United States thus rendering him unavailable for their last two games against Euro-Med Laboratories and SCTEX and could stretch all the way to the semifinals. “We support his dreams so as you can see today, I stretched the bench to prepare for Kiefer’s possible absence but he is still ironing out his final schedules,” added Coach Fermin.
Ravena, currently the tournament’s leading Filipino scorer, paced Mighty with 20 points, three assists and two steals. Akhuetie, the scoring leader among imports, had 17 points on top of 20 rebounds while Mangahas chipped in 13 while handing out 10 assists.
Jett Vidal continued his hot shooting from their previous game but his 20-point effort on five triples was not enough as the Realtors fell to 5-6, good for Sixth Place. Bautista was next with 15 points and Jam Jamito had a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Mighty Sports 9-1
Jumbo Plastic 6-4
Biyaheng SCTEX 6-4
Euro-Med Laboratories 5-5
Santa Lucia Realty 5-6
Foton Toplander 4-7
Supremo Lex-OLFU 1-9
Starters Mark Pangilinan and Byron Villarias typified SCTEX’s strong first period by combining for 19 points and building a 30-20 lead. From there, the Road Warriors were never threatened and built their margin to as high as 36 markers in the fourth period, 89-53.
Villarias went on to finish with 18 points, all made in the first half, on top of seven rebounds and seven assists while Pangilinan supported him with four triples en route to 15 points. The Road Warriors and Jumbo Plastic are tied for the second seeding which carries with it a free pass into the best-of-three semifinal round.
Jerrick Nacpil paced Foton with 18 points followed by Mikee Reyes who returned from an injured knee to add 11 markers. Foton fell to 4-7 with one more game against also-ran Supremo Lex-OLFU this coming Friday, the penultimate elimination round game (April 29).
Before the Friday games, the PCBL will have its regular Wednesday treat at the Marikina Sports Center. Jumbo Plastic plays Supremo Lex-OLFU at 5:00PM followed by the titanic struggle between Mighty and Euro-Med.
How They Scored:
BIYAHENG SCTEX (91) – Villarias 18, Pangilinan 15, Soyud 12, Hermida 11, Akomo 10, Sumalinog 6, Susaya 5, del Rosario 4, Raymundo 3, Batino 3, Esmeria 2, Vitug 2, Reyes 0.
FOTON TOPLANDER (60) – Nacpil 18, Reyes 11, Gomez 7, Ablaza 6, Penaflor 5, Hernandez 4, Moraga 3, Enriquez 2, Ouattara 2, Rivera 2, Mallari 0.
Period Scores: 30-20, 52-37, 75-49, 91-60.
MIGHTY SPORTS (92) – Ravena 20, Akhuetie 17, Mangahas 13, Lopez 12, A. Bringas 9, Melocoton 8, M. Bringas 8, Montilla 5, Regalado 0, Wongchuking 0, Banal 0.
SANTA LUCIA (85) – Vidal 20, Bautista 15, Jamito 12, Bangga 10, Camasura 6, Escosio 6, Salado 6, Javelona 3, Akpuru 3, Ilagan 2, Gabriel 2, Castanarez 0.
Period Scores: 21-21, 48-38, 68-67, 92-85.