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Manila coach Caslib relieved that Laguna's late run fell short

Jun Badelic, who has played superbly as Manila's goalie in the absence of SEA Games-bound Ace Villanueva, still had to work late in the match. Bob Guerrero/FC Meralco Manila
By Ivan Saldajeno

BIÑAN--Meralco Manila may have busted someone else's unbeaten PFL streak for the second straight time on Saturday night.

But Stallion Laguna put up a gallant stand in the 18 minutes of the game that made it interesting.

"We had a strong first half, but we were not able to sustain it in the second half," rued Coach Aris Caslib in the post-match press conference at the Biñan City Hall, a few meters away from the Biñan Football Stadium, the site of Manila's 3-2 win at Laguna.

What made it more amazing was that Laguna played without suspended scorers Balot Doctora and Jhan-Jhan Melliza, which paved the way for the other players to shine.

With his team down, 0-3, 76 minutes in, Ko Kyung-Joon rocked the said venue as he rifled a long bomb that highlighted his PFL debut.

Fitch Arboleda added some more late scare as he drilled in a left flank goal at stoppage time.

"It was really coming," Caslib commented on Laguna's late rally. "We were pressing a bit too high. We never wanted a second goal actually."

Luckily for Manila, Arboleda's goal came with only a minute left in the match, and the club hung on.

"At the end of the day, [the] three points [are] very important," Caslib further said.

The win assured that Manila remains on top of the standings for the weekend regardless of what happens to Cebu's third road game in all competitions in six nights, a Sunday showdown against Marikina at Manila's own turf, the Rizal Memorial Stadium, which Marikina will once again borrow as homecourt.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno