Tanduay steps closer to a playoff spot
Jerwin Gaco of Tanduay battles for the rebound against Batangas.
Tanduay inched closer on clinching a playoff spot in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, downing Batangas, 111-86 to claim solo third place on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Von Tambeling and Lester Alvarez caught fire in the third quarter as the two combined for 20 of the Rhum Masters’ 35 points to ultimately break the game wide open in the second half.
Tambeling unfurled 28 points, five rebounds, and three steals, while Alvarez racked 20 markers, six boards, and six assists for Tanduay, which rose up the standings with its 5-2 card.
Paul Varilla also added 18 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, while Jerwin Gaco registered a double-double in the tune of his 13 markers and 11 boards.
“Alam namin yung implication at magiging impact niya sa standings. We knew we had to dig deep and we need to step up and I’m glad that we got the job done,” said coach Lawrence Chongson.
In a see-saw battle with the Batangueños early on, the Rhum Masters finally got their groove on and turned a close 37-35 lead to a comfortable 51-39 halftime edge to finish the first half.
They further stepped on the gas pedal in the third quarter as they uncorked a 24-0 start to open the frame and take a commanding 75-39 advantage with 5:08 left.
Though Tanduay emerged victorious, Chongson was realistic in his approach in the homestretch of the eliminations as he ruled his team out of the top two race, which comes with an outright semifinals berth, and rather, shifting his focus on to the next best thing: a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals for the third and fourth-place squads.
“Masyadong close, masyadong dikit-dikit kami sa standings ng Wangs, CEU, Batangas, at Racal,” he said. “We cannot afford to lose. Itong remaining games namin, we’ll treat it na parang playoffs. Wala naman kaming magagawa kundi to take care of our end.”
Joseph Sedurifa topped the skidding Batangas (4-3) with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while James Forrester had 14 markers, three boards, and two assists in his final game for the team.
TANDUAY (111) -- Tambeling 28, Alvarez 20, Varilla 18, Gaco 13, Vigil 7, Taganas 6, Sollano 6, Eguilos 4, Palma 4, Terso 2, Martinez 2, Villamor 1, Sanga 0, Santos 0.
BATANGAS (86) -- Sedurifa 24, Forrester 14, Ablaza 10, Anderson 9, De Joya 7, Bautista 7, Laude 4, Isit 4, Saitanan 2, Mendoza 2, Mangabang 2, Dela Peña 1, Napoles 0, Ragasa 0.
Quarter scores: 21-20, 51-39, 86-55, 111-86.