PAGADIAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR — Fifth-ranked Zamboanga City banked on its pesky defense down the stretch to gain the upper hand in the first phase of the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup best-of-three semifinals, Sunday evening.
JPS survived second seed Clarin, 70-68, to take Game One at the Pagadian City Gymnasium.
Knotted at 66 in the fourth quarter, Jerome Ferrer was a steady man in the paint for Zamboanga.
He received the extra passes from Mac Cardona and Fran Yu in consecutive possessions. Then he coolly drained two layups to put JPS on top, 70-66, with 1:17 left.
In the ensuing play, Clarin’s Joseph Eriobu was fouled and calmly sank both his freebies.
Then Zamboanga committed a costly error with a 24-second shot clock violation to give Sto. Niño one final chance to tie or win the game with a three-pointer with 19.2 ticks to go.
But the suffocating defense of JPS made the difference. It forced Carlo Lastimosa to take a well-defended triple, which hit just the lip of the ring. John Wilson grabbed the offensive board but was not able to attempt a shot as time expired.
“Our defense was tighter today because we knew they have good wingmen with good shooting hands. John Wilson did not score double digits. That was a big thing for us,” said Zamboanga head coach Tony Pardo.
Cardona played his best game in Zamboanga uniform with 17 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals.
Gabby Espinas nabbed his fourth double-double of the tournament with 15 points, on 7-of-9 shooting, 12 rebounds, and two blocks.
Lastimosa paced the Sto. Niño with 12 points but was a poor 5-of-14 from the field. Pamboy Raymundo scattered 10 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists but committed four turnovers.
Wilson was held to just seven shots, making three of those to finish with just eight points. He also had seven rebounds and three turnovers.
JPS looks to eliminate Clarin tomorrow in Game Two at 4:00 PM. Meanwhile, Sto. Niño shoots for an equalizer.
Zamboanga City 70 – Cardona 17, Espinas 15, Neypes 9, Ferrer 8, Lingganay 6, Belencion 5, Gaco 5, Jeruta 3, Yu 2, Matias 0, Waminal 0.
Clarin 68 – Lastimosa 12, Raymundo 10, Wilson 8, Mangahas 8, Eriobu 7, Marcelino 6, Baetiong 6, Hayes 5, Pancho 4, De Mesa 2, Lucernas 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 34-40, 55-51, 70-68.