Team Batangas closed in on a playoff seat and eliminated the Racal Motors Alibabas, 95-90, Thursday evening at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
With Joseph Sedurifa being called up by Meralco in the PBA, coach Eric Gonzales put much of the responsibility on his veterans to help the Batangueños nab their fifth win in eight games.
Jessie Saitanan led Batangas with 19 points and six rebounds, while Jhaps Bautista added 18 markers, powered by three treys, eight boards, four assists, and two steals in the win.
Cedrick Ablaza also mustered a double-double in tune of his 17 points and 10 rebounds, while also draining the game-clinching freebies with 10.8 seconds to play.
“I’m very thankful kay God for helping us sustain this game and thankful ako sa mga players na kahit wala si Joseph, sabi ko gawin natin siyang inspirasyon. We are better together so masaya ako na nagrespond sila,” said Gonzales.
Paolo Pontejos kept Racal in the game in the last three minutes and even sliced the deficit down to two, 92-90 with 31.9 ticks remaining, but Ablaza was there to ice the duel for Batangas. Gwynne Capacio botched his late trey to end the rally for Racal in the closing seconds.
After making last conference’s championship series, Racal has now bowed out of the playoff race for the first time since the 2015 Foundation Cup, exiting the tourney with its 3-5 record.
Pontejos poured 26 points, while Jamil Ortuoste had 10 in the loss.
Batangas (95) – Saitanan 19, Bautista 18, Ablaza 17, De Joya 10, Isit 8, Zamora 7, Napoles 4, Ragasa 4, Dela Peña 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, Cabrera 3, Grimaldo 3, Faundo 0, Octubre 0, Lozada 0.
Quarterscores: 21-19, 49-43, 73-69, 95-90.