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Veteran Harold Cortes steadies Cebu Sharks ship during crucial MPBL tilt



Tiebreaker Times Veteran Harold Cortes steadies Cebu Sharks ship during crucial MPBL tilt Basketball MPBL News  Noynoy Falcasantos Harold Cortes Cebu Sharks 2019-20 MPBL Lakan Cup

BACOOR — With their backs against the wall, Cebu-Casino Ethyl Alcohol faced one of the top teams in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season in 1Bataan-Camaya Coast.

Adding to the difficulty was the Sharks’ missing the 12.8 points, 7.4 rebounds average of Rhaffy Octobre, who did not suit up due to a stiff neck.

But team captain Harold Cortes was built for moments like this as he dropped a game-high 16 points on a hyper-efficient 6-of-7 shooting clip, including a perfect 3-of-3 from deep, on top of four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Moreover, the Sharks stayed alive and stunned the Risers, 75-65, at the Strike Gym here, Monday.

With Cebu leading by 15, Bataan opened the payoff period with seven unanswered points to trim the deficit to just eight, 56-48, before the homegrown Cebuano checked back in to steady the ship for the Sharks.

“Sabi kasi sa akin ni coach noong pinasok ako, dapat daw i-guide ko ang team. Dapat daw yung lamang namin, hindi na nila maibaba para sigurado na ang panalo.”

The 5-foot-10 playmaker orchestrated a 14-3 counter-run to put the game away for good. He scored eight on that spurt with two triples and a push shot.

Sharks coach Noynoy Falcasantos always knew how Cortes play, that’s why when their lead dwindled down, he called on his 33-year-old veteran to restore order.

“Si Harold kasi, pagdating talaga sa mga crucial stretch, kailangan ko siya lalo na’t nawawala na si Jaybee (Mantilla), kapag dinodoble, hindi na ma-control ang bola, kaya kinailangan kong ipasok si Harold.”

In order for Cebu to clinch a spot in the post-season, they have to win their two remaining games against Parañaque-Yabo Sports and Batangas-Tanduay. Gensan-Burlington or the Athletics should also lose all of their remaining games.

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In other games, Davao Occidental-Cocolife shrugged off also-ran Nueva Ecija, 86-79, while Manila-Frontrow escaped Bacoor in a battle of powerhouses, 78-74.

Story by Justin Valencia
Photo by Nicks Hernandez