By Ivan Saldajeno
PASIG--UV got a huge lucky break in the second half.
Ray Suerte came alive in the final 20 minutes to lead the Green Lancers to a come-from-behind 85-82 win over the NCF Tigers in the final day of the PCCL quarterfinals at the Ynares Sports Arena on Sunday.
Suerte collected 25 points in the second half while making two huge defensive stops in the end to lead UV's fightback from 15 points down to steal the win from the upset-seeking NCF.
The Tigers found their groove in the first half, scoring 26 points in the first quarter and limiting the Lancers to only 13 in the second to open a 43-30 halftime lead.
A three-point play from Suerte, however, sparked his second half outburst as UV slowly but surely chipped NCF's lead away, eventually making the driver's seat on a Michael Maestre shot for a 53-52 lead with 3:14 to go in the third period. Both teams settled for a 59-all tie after three.
The Tigers threatened to pull away again as Jaymar Allarey caught fire in the fourth quarter and led them to a 73-65 cushion with 6:16 to go.
But Suerte made all but three points in a 14-4 Lancers blast that regained them the lead, 79-77, with 2:13 left.
Fredson Hermonio scored on a runner to force a 79-all deadlock with 1:45 to go, but Maestre made a putback to give UV an 81-79 lead with 1:22 to go.
Emman Ojoula converted a three-point play to give NCF its last taste of the lead at 82-81 with 1:03 remaining as Josue Segumpan failed to give UV the lead back with a missed triple.
But Suerte stole the ball from the Tigers and found Maestre for the eventual game-winning basket with 14.4 seconds to go.
Allarey tried to steal the win for NCF, but he missed a tough shot and Suerte went all the way after grabbing the rebound for the dagger layup as time expired.
Suerte finished with 30 points, three rebounds, two assists, and one steal, while Bassieru Sackor held his own against Ojoula and Chukwuemeka Nebedum and added 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, 13 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks for UV.
Allarey came up with 16 markers, five boards, two dimes, and one steal for NCF in a game where Ojoula saddled with foul trouble and could only come up with 13 points, although he also had 13 caroms and three blocks.
UV 85-Suerte 30, Sackor 13, Delator 8, Segumpan 8, Maestre 6, Napao 5, Gahi 5, Cabahug 5, Balabag 3, Soliva 2, Hassan 0, Butohan 0, Albina 0, Saga 0
NCF 82-Allarey 16, Ojoula 13, Margallo 10, Lapinid 10, Hermonio 8, Nebedum 7, Lawas 6, Magpantay 6, Mangubat 3, Olayvar 3, Padua 0
Quarterscores: 17-26, 30-43, 59-59, 85-82
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