By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Laguna regained its bearing in the final period to subdue Marikina, 63-61, in a crucial MPBL Dtu Cup clash at the Caloocan Sports Complex on Thursday night.
In a showdown with huge playoff implications, the Heroes got their scoring touch just in time to edge the Shoemasters.
Down 43-47 after three quarters, Laguna started the fourth frame with six straight points to take a 49-47 lead.
Marikina stayed in pace and even reclaimed the lead, 56-55, with 3:58 to go.
The Heroes went on an 6-1 mini-run to take the lead for good, 61-57, with 17 seconds remaining.
The Shoemasters still threatened as they scored on four straight free throws against a Heroes' split courtesy of Paolo Pontejos to cut the lead down to one, 62-61, with just eight seconds left.
Laguna, however, manage to milk most of the remaining time before Jay-Ar Ng Sang finally fouled Marlon Adolfo with only two seconds on the clock.
Adolfo made his first free throw but missed his second, but Jondan Salvador failed to throw a desperation heave in time.
Pontejos finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal for the Heroes, who jumped to seventh place in the Southern Division at 9-11.
Michael Mabulac added a double-double of 12 points and 18 rebounds with three rebounds and one block.
Erwin Sta. Maria dropped 19 points, four rebounds, and one assist for the Shoemasters, who fell to a tie with the Zamboanga Valientes for 10th place in the South at 7-11.
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