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Basketball

Cedric de Joya takes over late, leads Batangas storm against Gamboa Coffee

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Team Batangas have also joined the Marinerong Pilipino in the next stage, pulling off a gutsy 95-88 victory over Gamboa Coffee Lovers, Thursday evening at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Cedric de Joya showed that height isn’t really might, as he uncorked 31 points and eight assists in the win, 11 coming in the last 4:02 of the game as the Batangueños crawled back from an 81-75 deficit and book their ticket to the quarterfinals.

“Masaya na ako dito, pero we have to continue playing the right way,” said coach Eric Gonzales, who has accomplished his goal of leading Batangas to the playoffs in their second conference in the league.

Cedric Ablaza unfurled 17 markers, seven rebounds, and three dimes, Jhaps Bautista went 3-of-8 from threes to finish with 15 points, four boards, and two assists, and John Ragasa got 11.

The Batangueños can nab the fourth seed, which comes with a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals, with a victory over league-leader Flying V or if CEU lose their final game against the also-ran Racal Motors on Tuesday.

Batangas had to deal with a motivated Gamboa side, which showed tons of fight in their last elimination game.

Jett Vidal drained two triples to put the Coffee Lovers up, 81-75 with 4:02 remaining, before De Joya triggered the late-game rescue for the Batangueños. Bautista and Jhygruz Laude later joined him in the heist, connecting with the go-ahead baskets in the last two minutes to seal the deal.

Gonzales attributed his side’s poor start to immaturity, saying, “Baka di lang sila sanay sa playoff game. Yun ang major concern kasi halos lahat sila, walang experience. So we really had to remind them what we have to do to adjust in-game.”

Playing-coach Leo Avenido anchored his crew with 22 points, four rebounds, and three assists, while Vidal shot 14 for the cellar-dwelling Gamboa Coffee Mix (1-9), who exit the tourney on a nine-game losing skid.

The Scores:

Batangas 95 – De Joya 31, Ablaza 17, Bautista 15, Ragasa 11, Laude 7, Dela Peña 4, Zamora 4, Anderson 2, Isit 2, Mendoza 2, Mag-isa 0, Napoles 0, Saitanan 0.

Gamboa Coffee 88 – Avenido 22, Vidal 14, Jumao-as 12, Montuano 12, Parala 12, Acibar 6, Padilla 6, Arellano 2, Sarangay 2, Riva 0.

Quarterscores: 23-22, 39-43, 68-64, 95-88.

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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover by the six-foot-four forward.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far, not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he had been frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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Paul Lee, Hotshots outlast Fuel Masters to extend win streak to three

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Photo by PBA Images

A late-game rally by the Magnolia Hotshots was more than enough to repel a hungry Phoenix Fuel Masters side, 97-91, for their third consecutive victory, Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

The Hotshots have now improved to 4-1, while the Fuel Masters absorbed their second loss in a row and have dropped to 2-3, creating a four-way logjam with Rain or Shine, Blackwater, and NLEX in the team standings.

“It was all mental toughness in the end. It was about our perseverance, our desire to win, and chemistry sa dulo,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero. “Thankful ako sa players kasi they didn’t, give in sa pressure.”

Paul Lee led the charge with 20 points — despite shooting 33 percent — along with five rebounds. Rome Dela Rosa supplied 17 markers on 9-of-10 free throw shooting, while Ian Sangalang had 16 points and seven rebounds.

The Fuel Masters were actually ahead, 89-84, with 3:01 remaining in the fourth, but lost gas afterwards as the Hotshots pulled off a 9-0 rally — punctuated by Lee’s freebies — to build a 93-89 lead with just 42.1 seconds left to play.

Phoenix — even after Gelo Alolino sinking free throws to make it 91-93 — never had any chance of wielding the upset axe. Rafi Reavis’ follow-up off a Lee miss with 12.5 ticks left proved to be the dagger that put Phoenix down once and for all.

Mark Barroca had 12 points for Magnolia. Reavis had himself 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Marc Pingris, despite scoring just four, hauled down 17 rebounds, dished out four assists, and blocked two shots.

Alolino led Phoenix with 19 points on 70 percent shooting. Jeff Chan provided 12 markers, four boards, and four dimes. Matthew Wright gave 17 points on a horrid 7-of-19 shooting on top of four caroms, three feeds, and two steals.

Magnolia will aim to keep their streak alive against the TNT Katropa next Saturday, January 27, at 6:45 PM. Phoenix will try to end their skid versus the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on January 26, Friday at 7:00 PM. Both games will be at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Magnolia 97 – Lee 20, Dela Rosa 17, Sangalang 16, Barroca 12, Reavis 11, Simon 6, Jalalon 5, Pingris 4, Ramos 3, Pascual 2, Herndon 1, Melton 0.

Phoenix 91 – Alolino 19, Wright 17, Chan 12, Jazul 9, Eriobu 8, Chua 7, Mendoza 6, Kramer 6, Intal 3, Revilla 2, Perkins 2, Wilson 0, Dehesa 0.

Quarterscores: 30-23, 47-45, 67-75, 97-91.

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