MPBL: A late and-1 from Jason Melano is the difference as a weary Batangas holds back Imus in the UAE.

Bob Guerrero on Sep 29, 2019 10:00 AM
 MPBL:  Melano lifts Batangas to OT win over Imus in Dubai
"Sabi lang ni coach, presence of mind lang, wag ma-dala sa pressure." - Jason Melano (FILE PHOTO: Josh Albelda)

Playing their second game in as many days, the Batangas City Athletics - Tanduay gutted out a 86-85 overtime win over Imus Bandera Khaleb Shawarma in the Dubai Invasion of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season on Saturday night, early morning Philippine time.

The large crowd of mostly overseas Filipino workers at the cavernous Hamdan Sports Complex in the Emirati capital saw Val Acuna pour in 19 points to lead Batangas.

But the coup de grace was a late go-ahead and-1 from Jason Melano to seal the win. "Sabi lang ni coach, presence of mind lang, wag ma-dala sa pressure," said Melano, who finished with 18 points.

Batangas led 43-38 at the half and opened up a 68-54 lead at the end of the third thanks largely to the efforts of Jeff Viernes and Jayson Grimaldo.

Tanduay seemed to have the game in hand, up by 11 points, 75-64 with just under 5 minutes left off an Acuna triple.

It was only then that the Bandera found their rhythm. Jeric Nacpil hit a jumper then Jayjay Helterbrand knocked in back-to-back triples followed by another pair of three-balls by Jojo Cunanan to give the Cavitenos a shocking 78-75 lead with 1:20 left.

Acuna responded with a tying triple of his own to knot the contest at 78-78. Helterbrand and Melano missed late and the game went into an extension.

Nacpil's long two from the corner with 34 seconds left in OT gave Imus an 84-83 lead that was padded further by a Helterbrand split with just 13 ticks remaining.

But Justin Melano was the hero in the end with a putback with 3 seconds left. Kasim Mirza fouled him while he shot, and Melano fired in the charity for the lead. He finished with 18 points.

Helterbrand's desperation underhand layup missed and Batangas had their win 24 hours after losing to the Davao Occidental Tigers - Cocolife 67-57.

Batanguenos climb up to 10-5 in the standings while Imus drops to 3-12.

Both teams deployed famous actors in their rosters. Athletics guard Derek Ramsay was scoreless in 10 minutes of action while Khaleb Shawarma's Gerald Anderson was good for 10 points and a rebound.

Topscoring for Imus was Nacpil with 20 markers.

In the curtain-raiser for this main game the MPBL Executives team avenged their loss to the Dubai All-Stars from the night before with a 107-101 victory.

League founder senator Manny Pacquiao led all scorers with 42 points, featuring six triples.

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