MALOLOS, BULACAN – Holding the top four spot two weeks ago, the Bulacan Kuyas spiraled down to the sixth spot after two consecutive deflating defeats at the hands of also-ran Nueva Ecija and powerhouse Bacoor City.
That is why heading into their 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season home game against Quezon City-WEMSAP last Thursday, the Kuyas were dead-set on ending their skid in front of their home crowd.
However, it was not the case in the first three quarters as they found themselves in a tight duel against the already-eliminated Capitals. And it did not help that homegrown sensation Dennis Santos went down with an ankle injury during the third canto.
But luckily for the home squad, second-stringers Gwyne Capacio and Jhan Nermal were there to steady the ship.
The former Ateneo stalwart delivered nine points in crucial 11-3 blast, conniving with Nermal to turn a once two-point edge to a wide 76-66 gap. It was all Bulacan needed as they ran away with a 78-70 victory over Quezon City at the Malolos Sports Convention here.
“I’m proud kasi may dalawang nag step up sa amin, yung mga galing pa sa second unit namin. It could help sa playoff push namin,” said Bulacan head coach Kerwin McCoy.
The unheralded duo’s surprise performance was a welcome sight for Bulacan, who saw lead stars Lester Alvarez, JR Taganas, and Stephen Siruma struggle all night.
But more than anything, the two were just glad to step up for their teammates especially in times like this where they needed them the most.
“Malaking bagay para sa team namin kasi siyempre, na-injured nga si Santos ‘di naman sa lahat ng game maganda yung laro ng teammates ko kaya kailangan ko din talagang mag step-up,” said Nermal.
“Siyempre momentum, ngayon nagkakaroon na kami ng steam. Hopefully magtuloy tuloy, pero hindi lang kami, sana pati yung ibang guys. Lahat ‘yan may bilang, hindi lang kami ni Jhan, ‘di lang sa Dennis, lahat kami,” added Capacio.
With the victory, Bulacan improved its win-loss standing to 19-10 to remain at the sixth spot of the North Division. More importantly, this puts them in a very good position to snatch the fourth seed from Bataan and Pampanga, who has identical 19-9 records.
In other games, Rizal-Xentro Mall stunned playoff-hopeful Bicol, 79-77, while Richard Escoto and Iloilo-United were able to knock off Sarangani Province, 96-86.
Story by Jonash Dannug
Photo by Joaqui Flores