An ending for the ages.
Dominick Fajardo and Earnest Reyes was the tag team Bulacan DF needed to scrape past Pampanga, 93-91, in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go NBL Chairman’s Cup, Saturday night at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.
Tied at 91 with 2.8 seconds remaining, Fajardo inbounded the ball from the sideline. He found Reyes wide open for an alley-oop for the game-winner with 1.8 ticks left.
In the ensuing play, Delta’s Mark Tamayo threw up a heave from way halfcourt and banked it in as time expired in what could be the buzzer-beater and could have given Pampanga the win.
However, after review, Tamayo’s Hail Mary was deemed not counted as the ball was still in his hands when the clock reached zero.
Pampanga was still leading by six inside the last two minutes of the match. Fajardo and Ryan Operio then joined hands for seven unanswered points to take an 89-88 lead with 29 ticks remaining.
Delta’s Encho Serrano was fouled in the next play but flunked both his freebies. That set up a jumper for Joseph Celso on the other end, 91-88.
Tamayo then drained the game-tying triple from the top of the arc with 2.8 seconds left.
Fajardo finished with 23 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals, while Reyes had 11 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Operio was the spark off the bench with 22 points on a 7-of-18 clip from the field.
The Republicans grabbed a share of the leadership at 3-0, tied with Quezon.
Big man Ronan Santos led the way for Pampanga with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Levi Hernandez, coming off a 35-point outing last week, cooled off to just 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting and committed seven turnovers.
On the other hand, Encho Serrano flirted with a triple-double off the bench. He had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Meanwhile, Tamayo delivered 14 points of his own.
This was the Delta’s first loss in three matches.
Bulacan will battle Muntinlupa on the nightcap tomorrow at 6:00 PM.
Bulacan 93 – Fajardo 23, Operio 22, Reyes E. 11, Celso 8, Andres 8, Necio 6, Sumampong 6, Reyes J. 5, Cruz 4, Camua 0.
Pampanga 91 – Santos 18, Hernandez 16, Tamayo 14, Serrano 14, Liangco 9, Dyke 6, Yong 6, Pascual 2, Garcia 2, David 2, Gania 2, Binuya 0.
Quarterscores: 23-17, 46-43, 66-69, 93-91.