By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA — Zamboanga shut down Imus in the final quarter to take an 83-78 win in the MPBL Datu Cup at the STRIKE Gymnasium in Bacoor on Monday night.
The Rapidos blew an early double-digit lead but bounced back in time to steal a virtual road win that gave them a chance to go to as high as fourth place in the Southern Division.
Zamboanga waxed hot late in the first frame and raced to a 24-12 lead entering the second.
But Imus slowly recovered in the next two periods, eventually dropping 31 points in the third canto to go up, 66-64, with 10 minutes left.
After an exchange of four-point swings, the Rapidos went on a huge 11-0 run midway in the final frame to take a 79-70 lead with 2:40 to play.
But just as Zamboanga thought it is holding on, JP Manansala still made things interesting as he scored five straight points to trim the lead down to four, 82-78, but with only 4.6 seconds left in the game, it was a bit too late.
Reed Juntilla made 22 points, six rebounds, and one assist off the bench for Zamboanga, which scored its fourth straight win and moved back to .500 at 12-12, momentarily overtaking Bacoor City, which is hosting GenSan as of posting, for fifth place in the Southern Division.
Harold Arboleda went 4-for-5 from long range and finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks.
Ryan Buenafe came close to his own double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds with three assists, one steal, and one block.
Manansala and Jonathan Rivera each scored 13 markers for Imus, which dropped to 10-14.
With the loss, the team could be possible in line for an early playoff date with top-seeded Davao Occidental especially if it loses to Mandaluyong next Monday.
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