By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Jeckster Apinan scored the game-winning layup as Makati stole a 99-98 win from Manila in the MPBL Datu Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Thursday night.
Apinan drove hard to the basket for the go-ahead lay-in as the Skyscrapers came back from 16 points down to beat the Stars.
Makati slowly chipped the huge deficit away in the second half and eventually took a 97-95 advantage with 34.2 seconds to go.
However, Chris Bitoon made a quick layup with 29.1 seconds on the clock.
Coach Philip Cezar then made a good defensive move of putting Roger Yap against Rudy Lingganay in the next play, forcing him to take a highly-contested layup attempt that he missed with 6.1 seconds remaining.
However, Aris Dionisio, who struggled all game long, only made a split from the line following an Apinan foul, only putting Manila up, 98-97, but keeping the room open for Makati to steal the win.
Apinan took the ball from the three-point line and charged through the defense to lay the ball in.
Reil Cervantes had a chance to steal the win for the Stars, but his heave from almost halfcourt went airball as time expired.
Apinan went 8-of-11 from the field for 24 points with eight rebounds for the Skyscrapers.
Cedrick Ablaza also finished with an 8-of-11 field goal clip and tallied 23 points of his own with five rebounds, four assists, one block, and one steal off the bench.
Philip Paniamogan, who kept the Skyscrapers afloat in the first half despite the Stars's early barrage, had 21 markers on 5-of-9 field goals and 9-of-10 free throws with three rebounds and one assist.
Bitoon finished with 24 points, one rebound, four assists, and one steal for Manila.
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