By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Cebu City survived a fourth quarter meltdown on a Kevin Villafranca winner for a 69-68 squeaker over Pampanga in the MPBL Datu Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center on Saturday night.
Up by 11, 58-47, with 9:18 left, the Sharks slowly fizzled out in the rest of the fourth period and were suddenly down by one, 67-68, on a Jong Baloria stop-and-pop triple with 21.7 seconds to go.
The Lanterns thought they already stole the home win after forcing Bongbong Nuñez to a tough layup that he missed, but Villafranca cleaned up the botch lay-in and sank the putback with 2.4 seconds remaining.
Jimbo Aquino had one final crack at the win for Pampanga, but his open triple just rimmed out as time expired.
Patrick Cabahug, despite sitting out the last 21.7 seconds of the match following a badly missed three-pointer that paved the way for Baloria's near game-winning trey, still led Cebu City, which jumped to a tie with Laguna for seventh place in the Southern Division at 9-11, with 20 points, two rebounds, three assists, and one block.
Will McAloney added 13 points, 13 rebounds, and one block.
Michael Juico paced Pampanga, which fell to a tie with Valenzuela for ninth place in the Northern Division at 7-12, with 22 points, eight rebounds, and one assist.
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