By Ivan Saldajeno
BINAN--Laguna gives its fans at the Alonte Sports Arena a reason to smile as October draws to a close.
The Heroes held off the Mandaluyong El Tigre at home, 76-72, in their MPBL Datu Cup collision on Halloween night.
Leading for most of the second half, Laguna survived one last push from Mandaluyong to snap a two-game slide and join a logjam for fourth place in the Southern Division.
Clinging to a 61-56 cushion early in the fourth quarter, the Heroes suddenly found themselves down, 65-67, after an 11-4 run by the El Tigre with 3:58 remaining.
Laguna responded with an 8-2 run of its own to reclaim the lead, 73-69, with 1:10 left.
Gian Abrigo kept the game interesting as he completed a three-point play that cut the lead to one with 33.2 seconds remaining.
However, Michael Mabulac found Raymond Ilagan wide open from just inside the three-point line for the clutch jumper that stretched the gap again to three, 75-72, with 18.9 seconds left.
Josan Nimes still put up one final threat for the El Tigre as he was left wide open from the left corner for the potential equalizer, but his triple came up short and Ilagan sealed the win with a split from the line.
Mabulac finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and three steals for Laguna, which joined Batangas City and Parañaque at 7-6.
Ilagan added 14 markers, 11 rebounds, and two blocks, while Elvin Chan contributed 13 points, two rebounds, and three assists.
Nimes' missed triple put into waste a 16-point, 11-rebound, and two-assist performance as Mandaluyong fell for the fifth straight time, dropping to 6-6.
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