MANILA, Philippines – Fifth-seed Zamboanga Family's Brand Sardines hacked out a 78-74 win over No. 4 Batangas-Tanduay to take Game 1 of their best-of-3 quarterfinals series in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup, Monday at the Rizal Memorial Colleges Gym in Davao City.
Davaoeño Alvin Pasaol led the charge for Zamboanga, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds, two steals, one block, and an assist.
With the crowd cheering them on largely thanks to Pasaol, Zamboanga led by 10, 42-32, early in the third canto.
Trailing 76-67 with 3:37 left in the game, the Athletics launched a spirited comeback, scoring six straight points, capped by Jeff Viernes's two freebies with 28.8 ticks, to slash their deficit to just three, 76-73.
Then on the other end, Pasaol's inbound was stolen by Jayson Grimaldo. A scramble for the loose ball occurred and Viernes was fouled by Anton Asistio.
However, Viernes split his charities with 15.3 seconds remaining, 76-74, before Robin Roño was fouled. He calmly sank both free throws before Viernes missed two triple attempts to end the match.
"We need to stay composed kasi playoffs na ito. Good thing we stuck on our defensive plan in the end. We made stops, we controlled the rebounds and hit the crucial free throws," head coach Britt Reroma said.
Roño added 13 markers and eight rebounds, while Aaron Black chipped in 11 points, four boards, and three dimes. Harold Arboleda chalked up 10 markers and seven rebounds as well.
Viernes paced the Athletics with 18 points, six rebounds, and five assists while Jhaymo Eguilos had 16 markers and nine boards.
Zamboanga looks to close the series on February 21, Friday, at their foes' home turf at the Batangas City Coliseum.
Zamboanga-Family's Brand Sardines 78 - Pasaol 17, Roño 13, Black 11, Arboleda 10, Santillan 7, Asistio 7, Bonsubre 4, De Vera 3, Villamor 3, Thiele 3, Manzo 0, Reyes 0.
Batangas-Tanduay 74 - Viernes 18, Eguilos 16, Santos 11, Melano 10, Bragais 9, Teodoro 5, Grimaldo 4, Koga 1, Basibas 0, Rogado 0, Lopez 0.
Quarter scores: 22-25, 40-32, 57-54, 78-74.
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