By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA—GenSan blew an early double-digit lead but recovered in time to edge Parañaque, 80-76, in a crucial Southern Division clash in the MPBL Datu Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay on Tuesday night.
The Warriors were on pace of blowing the Patriots out after opening a 29-11 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter.
Parañaque actually had its first comeback bid in the second quarter after cutting GenSan’s lead to just eight, 40-32, with under three minutes left before halftime.
The Warriors recovered and pulled off a 9-0 run spanning to the third quarter to reopen a 17-point cushion, 49-32.
The Patriots, however, threatened again after closing the third with an 8-0 run to draw to within seven, 53-60, entering the fourth.
Jorem Morada gave GenSan a wider breathing room after starting the payoff period with two free throws for a 62-53 advantage.
But Parañaque went full throttle in its comeback bid, going on a 18-3 run to take a 71-65 lead with 4:32 left.
The Warriors reclaimed the lead, 75-74, after going on a 9-2 run capped by triples from Morada and John Orbeta.
After an exchange of splits from Orbeta, Josh Almajeda, and Chris Menguez that led to a 75-all tie, Orbeta went 2-for-2 from the foul line to give GenSan a 77-75 lead with 40 seconds remaining.
Delmar Mahaling then stole the ball from RR De Leon, and Meylan Landicho scored two freebies of his own to up the lead to four, 79-75.
De Leon tried to make up from his costly turnover, but he muffed a three-point attempt and Landicho iced the game with a split from the free throw line.
Orbeta finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, and one block for the Warriors, who moved up to 12-9, a half-game behind the Muntinlupa Cagers for second place in the Southern Division.
Landicho added 16 points, four rebounds, and one assist, while Morada came up with 13 markers, five boards, seven dimes, and two steals.
Vinny Begaso made 15 points, nine caroms, four assists, and one steal for the Patriots, whose playoff bid hit a roadblock after falling to 8-14, 1.5 games behind the Biñan Heroes for eighth place in the South.
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