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MJAS-Talisay forces KCS-Mandaue to winner-take-all in VisMin

ALCANTARA, CEBU — MJAS Zenith-Talisay City sent the Visayas finals of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Cup to a winner-take-all Game Three, edging KCS Computer Specialist-Mandaue, 63-56, Saturday at the Civic Center here.

Sent to the brink of disaster after losing Game One, 66-67, the Aquastars looked out of it as they wasted a strong start and trailed, 41-48, early in the fourth period. However, the tide turned after KCS’ defensive specialist Ping Exciminiano sprained his ankle. Though he still returned to the game, the momentum had already shifted.

The Aquastars quickly took advantage as season MVP Jaymar Gimpayan, Darrell Menina, Jhaymo Eguilos, Egie Boy Mojica and Paulo Hubalde came to life and sparked a 16-2 blast that put them ahead, 57-50.

However, KCS kept within striking distance and was within three, 56-59, after Gryann Mendoza split his charities with 1:19 remaining. Hubalde then extended Talisay’s lead to five, 61-56, by making a pair from the charity stripe after getting bumped off a pick and roll by KCS big man Bernie Bregondo.

KCS had several shots to trim the deficit but Shaquille Imperial and Mendoza missed several good looks from beyond the arc. The nail on KCS’ coffin got hammered in by Menina who picked up a loose ball after Mendoza slipped and went all the way for a layup to give the Aquastars a 63-56 lead with just 14 ticks left in the ballgame.

“The boys showed heart, ayaw talaga nila magpatalo,” said Aquastars head coach Aldrin Morante. “Pinakita nila yung character nila coming off a loss last night.”

The Aquastars and KCS will do battle for all the marbles in Game Three on Sunday. Tip-off is at 7 PM.

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“Sabi nga nila, you throw all the stats out of the window sa Game Three. We just have to focus mentally dahil ang goal talaga namin dito sa bubble is to win the championship,” said Morante.

Menina, a Mythical Five guard of the CESAFI, led Talisay City with 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists while Hubalde, who was noticeably more aggressive on the offensive end, had 11 points, six boards, four assists, and two steals.

Gimpayan added eight points, eight boards, and three steals.

Exciminiano paced KCS with 14 points, eight rebounds, two dimes, and three steals while Rhaffy Octobre and Mendoza chipped in 11 markers each, the latter piling on 13 rebounds, seven assists, and a blocked shot.

Game One hero Shaq Imperial was limited to just four points on 1-of-7 shooting and three turnovers.

The Scores:

MJAS-Talisay 63 – Menina 15, Hubalde 11, Cabahug 8, Gimpayan 8, Mojica 7, Jamon 4, Acuna 3, Eguilos 3, Villafranca 2, Mabigat 2, Santos 0.

KCS-Mandaue 56 – Exciminiano 14, Mendoza 11, Octobre 11, Nalos 4, Sorela 4, Imperial 4, Soliva 4, Cachuela 2, Bregondo 2, Tamsi 0, Roncal 0, Bonganciso 0, Delator 0, Mercader 0.

Quarterscores: 15-4, 24-23, 41-41, 63-56.

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