Clutch genes run in the veins of Carlo Lastimosa, as he saved second seed Manila-Frontrow from a disastrous meltdown against third-ranked Makati-Super Crunch, 77-74, Friday at the Filiol Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Lastimosa’s late-game exploits allowed the Stars to grab the series opener in the best-of-three North semifinals series against Makati in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season.
The Super Crunch-backed squad climbed all the way back from an 11-point hole while riding the hot hands of Rudy Lingganay. That mini-run knotted the game at 72-all with 44 ticks left, .
Then Lastimosa got down to work.
Off a timeout, Manila team consultant Ariel Vanguardia drew up a play with Lastimosa in the corner as the main option and with Mark Dyke in the paint as the alternative.
But Dyke was trapped inside, so he passed the ball to Lastimosa in the left corner.
Swish. Manila took the 75-72 advantage with 40.4 seconds remaining before putting the finishing touches from the stripe.
“Mentally tough kami saka ginagawa na namin ‘yung plays na ‘yun sa practice eh. Kaya rin siguro pumasok, kasi sanay na kaming gawin ‘yung play,” said the St. Benilde product.
Jong Baloria had one final chance but his bailout triple badly missed.
Still, the 29-year-old scoring guard was quick to deflect credit to his teammates.
“Teamwork talaga kami lagi. Usually twenty-plus ‘yung assists namin. Walang credit sa akin, walang credit kay Aris [Dioniso], kay Chris [Bitoon]. Laging credit sa buong team.”
Manila looks to finish the series on Wednesday, March 4, at their home turf at the San Andres Sports Complex.
In the other semis matchup, Mike Ayonayon lifted North kings San Juan-Go for Gold to an 86-84 victory over fourth seed Pampanga-ADG Group.
Story by Justin Valencia