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Rono frustrates Batangas as Arboleda leads Zamboanga to MPBL South semis

DAVAO CITY — Zamboanga-Family’s Brand Sardines and Batangas-Tanduay had to literally fight tooth and nail to live another day in the Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season.

Despite figuring in a highly-physical game, the young guns of Zamboanga remained composed, picking up a 69-52 victory in their quarterfinals rubber match against the Athletics, Wednesday at the RMC Petro Gazz Arena here.

Zamboanga awaits the winner between top seed Davao Occidental and eighth-ranked Bicol. The game is ongoing as of posting.

But this one was a test of character for Zamboanga.

“Despite na nagkaka-pisikalan na ‘yung laro, we stayed composed and stuck to our game plan,” said Zamboanga head coach Britt Reroma. “Pinaka-importante dito is ‘yung hindi kami nawala sa depensa. It was really the key for us kasi imagine, we were able to limit them to just fifty-two points.”

Holding a slim 50-46 cushion early in the final frame, Zamboanga zoned in on the main gunners of the Athletics. They then went on a 17-4 run to gain a 67-50 lead with 2:19 left.

Robin Rono caught fire during that run, knocking down three triples, while Santi Santillan had four. The Zamboangueño went a game-high plus-24 as well.

Harold Arboleda provided the stability for Zamboanga when the going got tough during the middle quarters. He finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.

“They are really our Batman and Robin,” Reroma said about Arboleda and Rono. “We go where they go.”

Anton Asistio and Santillan chipped in 12 and 10 markers, respectively.

The game itself saw six technical fouls, numerous skirmishes, and three ejections.

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With 1:19 left in the first half, Jom Sollano and Dan Sara were assessed double technical fouls after a brief skirmish. The former was also assessed a flagrant two that resulted in his ejection. Seconds later, Sara would be slapped with his second technical foul as well.

Mon Rogado was handed a disqualifying foul with 1:53 left in the third canto after being caught punching Rono.

It was a disappointing end to Batangas’ season after making it to the South Division finals a year ago.

Jeff Viernes paced the Athletics with 13 points but needed 14 attempts. The pint-sized guard also committed five turnovers. Jhaymo Eguiloties tallied 11 points and 10 boards as well.

The Scores:

Zamboanga-Family’s Brand Sardines 69 – Arboleda 15, Asistio 12, Santillan 10, Rono 9, Pasaol 8, Bonsubre 6, Black 5, Reyes 2, Thiele 2, Manzo 0, Sollano 0.

Batangas-Tanduay 52 – Viernes 13, Eguilos 11, Santos 6, Koga 6, Lopez 5, Sara 5, Melano 4, Bragais 2, Teodoro 0, Rogado 0, Grimaldo 0.

Quarterscores: 15-17, 28-29, 43-50, 69-52.

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