MALOLOS CITY – Jumbo Plastic saved enough power for the endgame as they tamed Santa Lucia Realty in overtime, 94-89 in a grand start to the semifinals of the 2016 Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) Chairman’s Cup at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center Sunday (May 15). Coming off an 11-day layoff, the Linoleum Giants banked on Moustapha Arafat’s heroics in the fourth period and overtime to secure the win.
The former University of the East stalwart scored Jumbo Plastic’s first five points in the extension as the score remained deadlocked at 86-86 until Stephen Siruma put them ahead for good, 88-86, and 1:39 to go. Jay-R Taganas then padded their lead further with a jumper but Jerald Bautista nailed a triple to threaten for the last time at the 47-second mark, 89-90.
Arafat then capped his splendid performance with a field goal to ease the pressure, 92-89. The defense then went to work forcing a stop that led to an easy two points for James Martinez and the final tally.
Earlier, Arafat forced the overtime by driving strong to the hoop for a basket plus a foul from Landry Sanjo with four ticks remaining. He could have won the game outright but his bonus free throw missed with the Realtors collaring the defensive rebound only to see Siruma steal the ball and throw up a prayer at the buzzer to end regulation at 81-81.
It seemed the sixth seed Realtors were all set to wield the upset axe on the second seed Linoleum Giants after Bautista drained a triple followed by a Kent Salado drive that resulted in an 81-74 advantage with 1:45 on the clock. However, Jeff Alvin Viernes countered with a triple followed by two free throws off a Sanjo foul to close in, 79-81, and Nichole Bangga stepped on the sideline to give the ball back to Jumbo Plastic and pave the way for Arafat’s heroics.
Showing no effects of their long break, Jumbo Plastic started hot and built a lead as high as 19 markers in the second period with Martinez and Taganas leading the way, 35-16. Santa Lucia settled down but the Linoleum Giants still remained ahead at halftime, 47-36.
Suddenly, the Realtors began to rally and eventually seized the lead for the first time since the opening period, 61-60, on a Jett Vidal triple. Vidal drew support from Sanjo, Paolo Javelona and Ivan Camasura as they outscored their opponents in the third, 30-14, setting the stage for the thrilling finish.
“We became complacent again and relaxed too early,” said Coach Stevenson Tiu. “I just reminded the players to take it one possession at a time and we went to the mismatches on both offense and defense.”
Arafat matched his personal-best of 16 points that he notched in his PCBL debut last April 8 in an 82-87 loss to Foton Toplander. Jumbo Plastic also got good numbers from Martinez with 14 points, Mark Lopez with 12 points and Taganas a rebound short of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Vidal banged in four triples to lead Santa Lucia with 14 points. Javelona and Bautista followed with 12 markers each.
Jumbo Plastic will aim to end the best-of-three series on Wednesday (May 18) in Marikina City. If the Realtors bounce back, the deciding Game Three will be at the same venue on Friday (May 20).
How They Scored:
JUMBO PLASTIC (94) – Arafat 16, Martinez 14, Lopez 12, Taganas 11, Arellano 9, Siruma 9, Viernes 7, Eguilos 5, Bitoon 5, Santos 4, Perez 2, Ibay 0.
SANTA LUCIA (89) – Vidal 14, Javelona 12, Bautista 12, Camasura 11, Salado 11, Sanjo 10, Bangga 7, Escosio 4, Ilagan 4, Castanarez 2, Jamito 0.
Period Scores: 26-14, 47-36, 61-66, 81-81 (reg.), 94-89 (OT).