General Santos City bested Bacolod, 77-72, and forced a decider in their quarterfinal playoffs late Monday in the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme at the Batangas City Coliseum.
Earlier, Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines banked on Jaycee Marcelino triple-double to thwart Muntinlupa,77-71, and advance to the semifinal round via a two-game sweep of their own quarterfinal series.
Hounded throughout by Bacolod, GenSan leaned on Nikko Panganiban to avenge a 77-81 loss in the series opener and regain the slight favorite’s role in their do-or-die encounter on October 31.
Panganiban tallied 24 points, including the dagger three-pointer with 11.3 seconds left, six rebounds, and two assists to earn best player honors.
The 6-foot-1 former NAASCU rookie of the year was supported by Cristopher Masaglang with 15 points and four steals, former Letran star Christian Fajarito with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Mark Cruz with nine points and nine rebounds.
Jhan McHale Nermal drilled in a game-high 25 points, including a triple that pushed Bacolod to within 72-74, and grabbed eight rebounds, but his efforts fell short as only Mark Yee could provide scoring support with 11 points.
With its confidence boosted by a 79-50 dumping of Muntinlupa in Game 1, Zamboanga showed up primed for the kill.
The Zamboanguenos surged ahead, 59-40, before shifting to cruise control late in the third quarter.
They were still comfortably ahead at 67-55 when the Muntinlupa Cagers, led by Biboy Enquio, charged for one final assault.
With Enquio bunching five points, Muntinlupa threatened at 71-73 with still 56 seconds left.
Zamboanga, however, kept its poise and sealed the outcome on two free throws by Ralph Tansingco and a basket by Jayvee Marcelino.
It was Jaycee Marcelino who sparkled for Zamboanga throughout with 24 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, plus six steals, followed by Tansingco and Jhaps Bautista with 11 points each.
The Zamboanguenos will be facing the winner between GenSan and Bacolod in the South division semifinals.