Batangas enters D-League QF's after escaping gallant Gamboa


By Dugout Philippines

PASIG--Batangas clinched a spot in the next stage of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup, pulling off a gutsy 95-88 victory over Gamboa Coffee Mix at the Ynares Sports Arena on Thursday night.

Cedric de Joya showed that height isn’t really might as he uncorked 31 points and eight assists in the win, 11 of which coming in the last 4:02 of the game as the Batangueños crawled back from an 81-75 deficit and book their ticket to the quarterfinals.

“Masaya na ako dito, pero we have to continue playing the right way,” said Coach Eric Gonzales, who accomplished his goal of leading Batangas to the playoffs in its second conference in the league.

Cedric Ablaza unfurled 17 markers, seven rebounds, and three dimes, Jhaps Bautista went 3-of-8 from threes to finish with 15 points, four boards, and two assists, and John Ragasa got 11.

The Batangueños can nab the fourth seed, which comes with a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals, with a victory over league-leader Flying V or if CEU loses its final game against also-ran Racal Motors on Tuesday.

Batangas had to deal with a motivated Gamboa side which showed tons of fight in its last elimination game.

Jett Vidal drained two triples to put the Coffee Lovers up, 81-75 with 4:02 remaining, before De Joya triggered the late-game rescue for the Batangueños. Bautista and Jhygruz Laude later joined him in the heist, connecting with the go-ahead baskets in the last two minutes to seal the deal.

Gonzales attributed his side’s poor start to immaturity, saying, “Baka di lang sila sanay sa playoff game. Yun ang major concern kasi halos lahat sila, walang experience. So we really had to remind them what we have to do to adjust in-game.”

Playing-coach Leo Avenido anchored his crew with 22 points, four rebounds, and three assists, while Vidal shot 14 for the cellar-dwelling Gamboa Coffee Mix (1-9), which exited the tourney on a nine-game losing skid.

Box Scores:

Batangas 95-De Joya 31, Ablaza 17, Bautista 15, Ragasa 11, Laude 7, Dela Peña 4, Zamora 4, Anderson 2, Isit 2, Mendoza 2, Mag-isa 0, Napoles 0, Saitanan 0

Gamboa 88-Avenido 22, Vidal 14, Jumao-as 12, Montuano 12, Parala 12, Acibar 6, Padilla 6, Arellano 2, Sarangay 2, Riva 0

Quarterscores: 23-22, 39-43, 68-64, 95-88

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