A furious comeback from Zamboanga Family's Brand Sardines in front of their home fans fell just short as Bicol Volcanoes LCC Malls won 84-80 in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season on Saturday night.
The fans at the Vitaliano D. Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga saw their team claw back late with an inspired Robin Roño late surge, but the visitors were a tad better in the endgame to earn a third straight win.
"Sinunod lang namin ang game plan ni coach Monel (Kallos), at nag-usap-usap kami na magtitwala kami sa isa't-isa," explained Bicol skipper Ronjay Buenafe, who garnered the player of the game award with 19 points.
Bicol spoiled the debut of Zamboanga's new coach, Britt Reroma, who formerly was the Bulacan Kuyas mentor.
The teams were all-square at 38 at the half but Bicol showed its intent with an 11-0 run to start the third, including a pair of Buenafe triples. The period ended with Bicol holding a 60-53 advantage.
With three minutes left in the final quarter Bicol's Raffy Gusi made consecutive steals-and-lay-ups plus a free throw to put the Volcanoes up 74-61, for what looked to be a safe lead. But Zamboanga guard Roño played like a man possessed from then on, contributing points from drives, triples, and free throws to will his team closer and closer to Bicol. His final score was a baseline drive to draw Zamboanga to within 3, 83-80, with 13 ticks left.
But Bicol had to foul Jerome Garcia on the ensuing play and his split gave Bicol a two-possession lead that held up until the end. Roño finished with 18 points, fourteen in the final period.
Also impressing was Bicol guard Alwyn Alday, who also compiled 18 markers.
Bicol advances to 8-5 while Zamboanga must content themselves with a 6-7 card.
In the opening game of the doubleheader Gensan Warriors Burlington won over Imus Bandera Khaleb Shawarma GLC Trucks and Equipment, 75-73.
Robbie Celiz sealed the W on the last play of the game thanks to heads-up play on both ends of the court. Mikey Williams of Gensan had just tied the game at 73-all with a pair of charities with 15 seconds to go. Jojo Cunanan of Khaleb Shawarma made a poor pass near the top of the key that Celiz picked off. The big man motored all the way, coast-to-coast for the winning basket as the Bandera players looked on in shock. It was a fitting end for a see-saw game that was close all throughout.
Celiz led Burlington with 26 big points and 9 reounds. Williams was next in scoring with 20.
MC Caceres, who had put Imus up 73-71 in the last minute with an artful teardrop off a Jayjay Heltebrand pass, was tops in scoring for his squad with 22. Homegrown John Cantimbuhan was good for 14.
Ramon Pido's team goes to 11-2 while Imus slides to 3-7.