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.
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 still left to play in the frame.
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.
In the second game, Marinerong Pilipino kept its flickering playoff hopes alive as it pulled off a 72-71 shocker over Racal Motors.
Achie Iñigo and Joseph Marata saved the day for the Skippers as they conspired for the deciding 11-0 run to crawl back from a 71-61 deficit with three minutes remaining.
Iñigo capped off the rally with the go-ahead lay-up off the glass with 44.2 seconds left to give Marinero the slim one-point lead.
Racal had one last chance to win the game with 7.3 seconds left, but Jamil Ortuoste botched his right corner three.
“It all boils down to one stop,” said coach Koy Banal, as his side snapped a three-game losing skid to improve to 2-4. “I never doubted our chances because these players work so much in practice. Sinasabi ko sa kanila na di tayo bibitaw and we’ll keep on fighting and I’m glad that we got the win.”
Iñigo captained the Skippers with 14 points, 10 of which coming in the fourth quarter, on top of seven assists and five rebounds, while Marata wound up with 10 points powered by two treys in the last three minutes of the game.
Mark Isip also chimed in 12 points and two boards, while Julian Sargent got 10 markers and four rebounds.
“It was so hard to pull off a win. But us being at 1-4 humbled us. Doon namin naisip na before pride, it’s humility first. That’s what triggered everybody to be excited coming to practice, to prepare, and to work hard. Yung willingness nila to win showed today,” said Banal.
Gwynne Capacio led Racal with 13 points and two rebounds, while Marlon Gomez and Janus Lozada both had 10 markers apiece.
Racal continued its downward spiral in the standings as it now suffered its fourth defeat in five games and fell to a 3-4 standing.
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.
Quarters: 21-20, 51-39, 86-55, 111-86.
MARINERONG PILIPINO 72 – Iñigo 14, Isip 12, Marata 10, Sargent 10, Javillonar 7, Lopez 6, Javelona 5, Alabanza 4, Moralde 4, Gumaru 0, Publico 0.
RACAL MOTORS 71 – Capacio 13, Gomez 10, Lozada 10, Apreku 9, Ortuoste 7, Tallo 7, Ayonayon 5, Pontejos 4, Cortes 3, Mangahas 2, Faundo 1, Dela Cruz 0, Grimaldo 0.
Quarters: 18-19, 38-36, 53-56, 72-71.