BACOOR, CAVITE — Cebu-Casino Ethyl Alcohol continued its pursuit of a playoff spot, downing also-ran Nueva Ecija, 77-73, in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season, Monday at the Strike Gym here.
With Cebu leading by six with at the 1:20 mark of the fourth period, Nueva Ecija’s Tonino Gonzaga and Justin Arana scored back-to-back baskets to pull within two, 75-73, with 33.4 ticks remaining.
But Jai Reyes fouled Harold Cortes with 11.2 seconds left. The homegrown Cebuano then drained both of his freebies to put the nail in the coffin.
The Rice Vanguards were unable to put up a shot in the final 11 seconds of the game, handing the Sharks their 12th win in 25 contests. Cebu is now just half-a-game behind Bicol for the eighth and final spot in the Southern playoffs.
“Ipinasok ko yung defensive players ko, tapos we switched everything kaya ‘di sila naka-attempt,” Cebu coach Noynoy Falcasantos on their last defensive play.
Rhaffy Octobre led the way for the Casino Ethyl Alcohol-sponsored Sharks with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go with two boards and an assist. He was also a game-high plus-16.
John Saycon and Nichole Ubalde posted identical 11-point, four-rebound statlines for Cebu. Kraniel Viloria had 10 markers.
Despite the close finish, the Sharks led from start to finish.
Reyes ended up with 14 points, five rebounds, five dimes, three steals but committed five turnovers for Nueva Ecija.
The Rice Vanguards slid to 8-18 in the North.
Cebu-Casino Ethyl Alcohol 77 – Octobre 22, Saycon 11, Ubalde 11, Viloria 10, Lao 9, Cortes 8, Nuñez 4, McAloney 2, Galvez 0, Yu 0.
Nueva Ecija 73 – Reyes 14, Monte 11, Gonzaga 10, Martinez 10, Sabellina 7, Arana 6, Sarao 5, De Leon 4, Aquino 4, Dela Cruz 2, Garcia 0.
Quarterscores: 23-11, 46-38, 60-55, 77-73.
Story by Justin Valencia
Photo by Thel Suliva
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