By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA—Quezon City created a needed room in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup playoff race after beating Imus at home, 80-71, at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City on Wednesday night.
Behind double-doubles from Jay Collado and Hesed Gabo and a perfect field goal game from Mon Mabayo, the Capitals scored a crucial win against the Bandera that moved them to the cusp of making a playoff return.
QC was efficient on both ends of the floor in the first half, limiting Imus to only 13 first quarter points before erupting for 27 in the second to take a 43-34 halftime lead.
The Bandera, however, fought back in the third period, even tying the game, 57-all, late in the period.
The Capitals answered with a 12-2 run to reopen a 10-point cushion, 69-59, with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter.
Imus had one final push, trimming the lead down to four, 72-68, with 2:22 to play, but QC responded with an 8-1 run to pull away for good.
Collado and Gabo each scored 14 points for the Capitals, who moved back to sixth place in the Northern Division at 11-11.
Collado grabbed 11 rebounds alongside two assists and one block, while Gabo dished out 11 assists with two boards.
Mabayo went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and finished with 13 points along with six assists and one steal.
They can barge their way back to the playoffs as soon as Monday night at the Valenzuela City Astrodome if they can snap the Makati Skyscrapers' winning streak.
Jonathan Rivera fired 19 points, four rebounds, and four assists for the Bandera, who fell to 9-13, dropping their fifth consecutive game.
The loss kept the Biñan Heroes, who lost to the Skyscrapers earlier Wednesday night, in the playoff race as the Bandera are just a half-game ahead of the Heroes for eighth place in the Southern Division.
Imus, however, still has three games left, including clashes against also-ran Basilan and Mandaluyong.
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