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Tanduay plays twice-to-beat buster anew, forces sudden death against Racal


By Ivan Saldajeno

BACOOR--Tanduay forced a rubber match against Racal in the semifinals of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup with an 88-86 win on Thursday night at the Strike Gym.

However, the Rhum Masters had to ditch a last-minute attack by the Tile Masters to assure that a Game 2 happens on Tuesday.

Already burning a twice-to-beat disadvantage to eventually knock out UP-QRS-JAM in last conference's quarterfinals, fourth-seeded Tanduay already threatened to dismantle top-seeded Racal's semifinal edge early on, breaking loose of a tight first quarter and opening a 23-point lead, 68-45, in the third quarter.

But a 13-0 run sparked the Tile Masters' fight back and eventually drew them to within two, 70-72, with less than seven minutes left in the fourth.

The Rhum Masters opened a 7-0 rally of their own to keep them afloat with a 79-70 cushion with 5:16 remaining.

Racal finally broke through Tanduay's lead as they launched an 11-1 run to take an 81-80 lead with less than three minutes to go.

Reden Celda then scored on back-to-back baskets to give the Rhum Masters the lead anew, 84-81, with less than two left.

But a three-point play by Jonathan Grey tied the game at 84 apiece with 1:21 remaining, setting up the wild finish.

Jaymo Eguilos gave Tanduay the lead again, 86-84, with 1:04 left in the match, while Gelo Alolino added another basket to stretch the gap to four with 36.3 seconds to go.

Roider Cabrera kept the game interesting as he made two of three charities to bring the lead back to two.

Racal had a chance to at least force overtime as Alolino muffed what would have been the insurance basket with 6.7 seconds left, but Grey opted to go for the game-winning triple that he missed at the death.

Alolino, who was part of the UP-QRS-JAM lineup that witnessed Tanduay completely shattering their playoff edge the last time out, finished with 26 points, four rebounds, and four assists for Tanduay, while fellow ex-NU Bulldog Celda added 15, seven coming in the fourth period.

Grey had 21 points, six rebounds, and four assists for Racal, which found themselves on the verge of getting another shock semifinal exit like happened last conference.

Box Scores:

Tanduay 88-Alolino 26, Celda 15, Ferrer 13, Mendoza 10, Eguilos 8, Belencion 6, Acuna 4, Javillonar 4, Santos 2, Javelona 0, Lingganay 0, Tagarda 0

Racal 86-Grey 21, Banal 12, Ortuoste 11, Paniamogan 9, Celiz 8, Cabrera 5, Corpuz 5, Maiquez 5, Robles 4, Terso 4, Gabawan 2, Javier 0, Neypes 0

Quarterscores: 22-22, 55-43, 72-63, 88-86

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno