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Fran Yu shows nerves of steel, lifts JPS Zambo to next stage of VisMin playoffs

PAGADIAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR — Fifth-ranked Zamboanga City marched to the semifinals of the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup, Thursday evening. 

Fran Yu made the biggest plays on both ends for JPS while they barely escaped sixth seed Zamboanga del Sur, 69-66, at the Pagadian City Gymnasium here.

An and-one by Eloy Poligrates put ALZA Alayon down by just one, 66-67, with 1:34 left in the match.

Looking for its first lead since the 2:54 mark of the first period, Jeff Tajonera launched a wide-open three from the right wing with 1:05 left. Unfortunately, though, it rimmed out.

Poligrates also missed a trifecta in the waning seconds, leading to free throws for Yu with 11.3 ticks remaining.

The NCAA Season 95 Finals Most Valuable Player Yu then calmly sank both freebies to stretch JPS’s lead to three, leaving a door open for ALZA Alayon.

In the ensuing play, Dan Sara shot what could be the game-tying triple. However, the 5-foot-10 Yu blocked Sara to seal the deal for Zamboanga City.

The 2019 NCAA Finals MVP finished with 12 points, five assists, four rebounds, a steal, and a block.

“Si Fran Yu young legs yan. Hindi nila kayang habulin ‘yon. Tapos ‘yung free throws niya, that was expected kasi sa practice pa lang magaling na talaga yan sa free throw. NCAA MVP eh, wala ng kaba,” JPS head coach Tony Pardo on Yu.

Gabby Espinas, 39, was aging like fine wine, producing 14 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists for JPS. Mac Cardona also tallied nine points, five rebounds, three assists, and a block.

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Meanwhile, Jerome Ferrer was a sparkplug off the bench with nine points and six rebounds.

Pacing ALZA Alayon was Sara with 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting, missing all of his six attempts from deep. Adrian Celada added 11 points.

Charles Pepito almost had a double-double with 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 clip, to go with nine rebounds.

Dennis Daa, who has led Zamboanga del Sur multiple times in the tournament, was a little gun shy. He had just eight points on four shots to go with 10 rebounds.

Waiting for JPS in the best-of-three semifinals first phase is the second-seeded Clarin. Game One takes place on Saturday, July 31, 6 pm.

“‘Yung 7-1 record ng Clarin wala na ‘yun. Pareho na kaming 0-0 so that doesn’t matter anymore,” Pardo on their semifinals series with the Sto. Niño.

The Scores:

Zamboanga City 69 – Espinas 14, Yu 12, Cardona 9, Ferrer 9, Lingganay 7, Jeruta 5, Neypes 5, Gaco 5, Belencion 3.

Zamboanga del Sur 66 – Sara 14, Celada 11, Pepito 10, Daa 8, Poligrates 7, Cruz 5, Jabello 4, Moneva 3, Puerto 2, Tajonera 2, Raflores 0, Amoquis 0, Bangcoyan 0, Larotin 0.

Quarterscores: 20-12, 37-28, 52-47, 69-66.

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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