By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Quezon City won its third straight game in the MPBL Datu Cup after subduing Laguna at home, 85-80, at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City on Thursday night.
In a highly-physical clash that saw both squads putting up a total of 84 free throw attempts, 42 for each team, and even Jay Collado leaving the game due to an apparent elbow injury after a hard fall, the Capitals held on against the Heroes in a long showdown that ended just before the clock struck midnight despite actually struggling from the foul line.
QC actually had a chance to pull away early as the team opened a 26-16 lead with six and a half minutes left in the second quarter.
But Laguna caught fire later in the second with a 10-0 run to take a 34-33 lead and eventually stretched it to four, 40-36, at halftime.
The road team, however, could not pull away from the host squad, and the latter ended the third quarter ahead, 61-60.
However, the Capitals also had a tough time in finishing off the Heroes as they struggled from the free throw line, and the latter regained the lead, 76-75, on a Ralf Olivarez triple with 1:37 left.
QC, despite the free throw woes still haunting the team, finally stole the home win with the game-deciding 8-1 run for an 83-77 cushion capped by a 2-for-2 trip from the charity stripe by Jeff Morillo.
James Castañares still put a bit of a scare with a corner triple with eight seconds left, but Jomar Santos found a blitzing Peejay Barua for the insurance layup.
Barua finished with 20 points and six rebounds for the Capitals, who zoomed up to sixth place in the Northern Division at 6-8.
Collado and Hesed Gabo each added 14 markers.
Michael Mabulac put up 21 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and one steal for the Heroes, but he had to watch the final 80 seconds of the game at the bench as he and Raymond Ilagan fouled out at crunch time.
Denok Miranda added 20 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and one steal.
Olivarez had his own double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds with one steal and one block.
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