Rey Suerte showed nerves of steel, towing Batangas City-Tanduay to a tight 72-68 victory over Navotas-Unipak Sardines in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season at the Ynares Sports Arena, Thursday.
Down by two points, Suerte fired a three-pointer from the left wing before fishing a foul off Navotas’ Kojack Melegrito. That led to two free throws, which then gave Batangas a three-point advantage, 69-66, with 1:39 left in the game.
Osama Abdurasad’s lay-up with 39.4 seconds left trimmed the Athletics’ lead to one. However, Suerte once again came to Batangas’ defense. He converted a trey in the same spot to push the lead back to four points, 72-68, with 16 seconds remaining.
Abdurasad missed a three-pointer, while Jason Melano stole the ball off a pass from Joesel Prudente to seal the deal for the Athletics.
“We really need it sa standings, and especially for the people of Batangas. At least kahit papaano napa-smile namin sila. Kahit kaunti. [But] we’re still trying to figure out how to win,” said Batangas head coach Woody Co.
Suerte – who scored Batangas’ last eight points – finished the game with 13 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Melano delivered 12 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, and a block, while Ryusei Koga and Jeff Viernes chipped in 12 and 11 points in the victory.
The Athletics, who are now in a three-way logjam in the fifth spot of the South Division with Iloilo and Zamboanga, possessing identical 16-11 cards.
On the other hand, Mark Guillen and Elmer Cabahug led Navotas with 13 points apiece.
The Unipak Sardines-backed squad dropped to a 7-21 standing in the North Division.
Batangas City-Athletics (72) – Suerte 14, Melano 12, Koga 12, Viernes 11, Olivares 7, Grimaldo 5, Santos 4, Sara 3, Tungcab 3, Bragais 2, Rogado 0
Navotas-Unipak Sardines (68) – Guillen 13, Cabahug 13, Taywan 11, Gonzales 6, Melegrito 5, Bondoc 5, Abdurasad 5, Matillano 4, Andaya 4, Bautista 2, Evangelista 0, Prudente 0
Quarterscores: 17-10, 34-31, 51-58, 72-68
Story by Jonash Dannug
Photo by Thel Suliva