By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA—The defending Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League champion is still alive!
Batangas City forced a rubber match in its Southern Division Semifinals against Zamboanga with a 67-57 win at the Batangas City Sports Center on Saturday night.
The Athletics recovered from a bad start and pulled away from the Rapidos to assure that a Game 3 will happen.
Zamboanga was on pace of sweeping Batangas City early on as it took an 18-12 lead after one quarter.
But the Athletics responded with a 20-11 second quarter to enter halftime ahead, 32-29.
The Rapidos had a chance to reclaim control as Allan Santos scored 10 straight points to help them regain the lead, 41-39, with 5:07 to play in the third.
However, the Athletics responded with a 9-2 run to end the period to retake the advantage and eventually pulled away in the final frame to the delight of their home fans.
Jeff Viernes scored 16 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists for Batangas City.
Jaymo Eguilos posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds with two assists, one block, and one steal.
Robin Roño tallied 16 markers, six rebounds, two assists, and one steal for Zamboanga.
With Davao Occidental sweeping its own series against Bacoor City in the first game, Game 3 will take place back at the said venue on Tuesday night.
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