Mindoro-EOG Burlington escaped Rizal-EMKAI XentroMall, 86-83, to remain in the hunt in Pool D of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Basketball League Invitational powered by TM, Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Golden Coolers stormed back from 11 points down, knotting the game at 78-all after a Jordan Rios trey with 2:48 left.
Jeramer Cabanag, who had been hot the entire second half, drained a fadeaway jumper. That was followed by an Alvin Baetiong putback to give the Tamaraws a four-point cushion,
Kurt Sunga scored on an and-one to give Rizal a second wind. But free throws by Nat Cosejo and, later on, James Castro sealed the win for Mindoro.
“I think we go back again to our habits na kailangan talaga namin day by day to be consistent. And defensively, ‘pag nag break down kami defensively, ayun, nakaka-convert,” said Mindoro head coach Britt Reroma.
“Sabi ko nga sa mga players, basketball is a game of runs. So ibig sabihin konting mali, konting pikit, mama-maximize na ng kabila,” he added.
Cabanag poured 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. The San Beda product also had six rebounds, an assist, and a steal across his name.
Allen Liwag chipped in 11 points and nine boards, while Nat Cosejo had 10 points, five rebounds, and two assists in the contest.
Mindoro (3-1) forced a three-way tie with Imus (3-1) and Manila (3-1) at the top spot of Pool D. Rizal (1-3), meanwhile, is already eliminated along with Gen San (1-3) and Bulacan (1-3).
Mindoro though hopes that Bulacan stuns Manila or Rizal upsets Imus on Monday while they win over GenSan tomorrow to gain one of the two quarterfinals slots.
In case of a three-way tie between Manila, Imus, and Mindoro, the Stars (+3) will take the top seed. The Buracai de Laiya-backed team (+1) will get the second seed due to their quotient advantage. Mindoro is a minus-4.
Adrian Celada led the Golden Coolers with 17 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Meanwhile, Jeric Serrano added 15 points and nine boards.
Mindoro-EOG Burlington (86) – Cabanag 23, Liwag 11, Cosejo 10, Baetiong 9, Mariano 8, Koga 7, Caldozo 6, Castro 4, Mallari 4, Matias 2, Villapando 2, Saldana 0.
EMKAI- Rizal Xentro Mall (83) – Celada 17, Serrano 15, Sunga 13, Benitez 12, Melegrito 11, Victoria 6, Saret 5, Rios 3, Matias 1, Acibar 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 13-8, 33-30, 63-55, 86-83