Robby Celiz took over in crunch time, leading General Santos-Burlington to an 80-75 escape act against Nueva Ecija in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Cup at the Caloocan Sports Complex, Wednesday.
With Nueva Ecija closing in, Celiz took matters into his own hands and went hard for a layup. The six-year veteran then swished a fadeaway jumper to stretch the lead to five, 78-73, with 38 seconds left in the game.
James Martinez answered with a floater to keep Nueva Ecija within striking distance. But Cris Masaglang and Celiz buried 2-of-4 from the line to completely ice the game.
“Well, I just told him [Robby Celiz] to be aggressive and play his game, play to his true potential. Don’t settle, don’t relax because we’re going to the playoffs,” said General Santos head coach Rich Alvarez.
Pamboy Raymundo posted 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting, five assists, and two steals along with six turnovers.
Celiz — who scored five of GenSan’s last six points — finished the game with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and three assists.
Cris Masaglang added 13 points, while Mikey Williams had 12 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds.
GenSan ended the elimination round with an 18-12 card, tied with Zamboanga and Iloilo. However, due to the quotient system, the Warriors settled for the seventh seed and will face number two Bacoor.
James Martinez top-scored Nueva Ecija with 22 points built on five three-pointers along with six boards.
Jai Reyes was an assist shy of a triple-double, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists for the 10-20 Rice Vanguards.
General Santos-Burlington (80) — Raymundo 24, Celiz 23, Masaglang 13, Williams 12, Goloran 3, Orbeta 3, Mahaling 2, Bautista 0, Cinco 0, Cabanag 0, Carlos 0, Grospe 0, Landicho 0, Basco 0
Nueva Ecija (75) — Martinez 22, Reyes 13, Sarao 12, Sabellina 11, Gonzaga 8, Celada 5, Arana 4, Monte 0, Garcia 0
Quarterscores: 24-15, 40-36, 59-52, 80-75
Story by Jonash Dannug
Photo by Thel Suliva