PASIG CITY – Batangas broke out of its two-game losing slump at the right time by eliminating Racal Motors from contention at the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, 95-90, at the resumption of play Thursday (July 20) at the Ynares Sports Arena. The Batanguenos can formally enter the playoffs for the first time by winning one of their remaining two games against Gamboa Coffee Mix and undefeated Flying V.
Before the game, Batangas received news that leading scorer Joseph Sedurifa (16.4 PPG) was called up the PBA’s Meralco Bolts. Instead of folding, Coach Eric Gonzales urged his team “to rally around Joseph and use him as an inspiration because they all have the same dream of one day making it to the PBA.”
True enough, the Batanguenos drew inspired performances from former STI College Olympians Cedrick Ablaza and Jerald Bautista and center Jessie Saitanan began bombing away from the three-point line as they seized control by halftime and never looked back, 49-43.
Batangas’ biggest lead stood at 11 points in the third period, 63-52. The best that Racal could do was close in by two at the 31-second mark on a Paolo Pontejos basket, 90-92, but Ablaza restored order by sinking two free throws in the next play, 94-90.
Saitanan hit a total of five triples en route to a team-high 19 points plus five rebounds. Bautista was next with 18 and Ablaza had a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Pontejos scattered 26 points but he lacked support from his teammates as the expected scorers failed to hit their averages. Jamil Ortuoste was the only other Racal player in twin figures with 10.
Batangas improved to 5-3 in a tie with idle Centro Escolar University for the fourth and fifth playoff berths. Racal dropped to 3-5, marking the first time the franchise failed to advance to the playoffs since the 2015 Foundation Cup, their second conference of existence where they carried the name KeraMix.
How They Scored:
BATANGAS (95) – Saitanan 19, Bautista 18, Ablaza 17, de Joya 10, Isit 8, Zamora 7, Napoles 4, Ragasa 4, de la Pena 3, Laude 2, Anderson 2, Mendoza 1, Mag-isa 0.
RACAL MOTORS (90) – Pontejos 26, Ortuoste 10, Ayonayon 9, Capacio 8, Cortes 8, Tallo 7, Apreku 6, Gomez 6, Mangahas 4, Grimaldo 3, Cabrera 3, Faundo 0, Octubre 0, Lozada 0.
Period Scores: 21-19, 49-43, 73-69, 95-90.