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Bulacan nearly bubbles huge lead but holds on vs. Caloocan

Jovit Dela Cruz helped the Kuyas stave off the Supremos. MPBL
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Bulacan nearly lost a comfortable lead but still walked away with a tight 81-79 win over Caloocan in a crucial MPBL Lakan Season game at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center on Thursday night.

The Kuyas had a golden opportunity to pull away after opening a 20-point lead, 41-21, with 3:59 left before halftime, outscoring the Supremos, 21-6, in the first six minutes of the second quarter.

Caloocan, however, slowly crawled back to the game later in the second quarter and in the second half especially with Bulacan coach Kerwin McCoy giving his bench players quality minutes, even taking the lead, 71-70, with 6:37 to play in the fourth quarter.

"Ang intention ko talaga ay bigyan yung mga bench players namin ng kumpyansa kaya medyo nadikitan kami pero kailangan kasi namin mag invest sa kanila para maging stronger ang team," McCoy explained his decision to utilize his bench.

The Kuyas made five straight points to reclaim the lead, 75-71, with 4:12 remaining, but Cederick Labing-Isa made four consecutive points by his lonesome to tie the game anew, 75-all, with 3:08 to go.

Stephen Siruma then drained back-to-back triples to give Bulacan an 81-77 cushion with 42 seconds left.

John Ambuludto kept Caloocan in the game with a layup with 28 seconds remaining, while Danny Marilao stole the ball from Rev Diputado in the next play.

Labing-Isa, however, missed two pointblank shots that would have tied the game, and Marilao misfired his last gasp from three-point land that could have given the team the win.

Jovit Dela Cruz made 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and three steals for the Kuyas, who moved up to 18-8 in the standings after their sixth straight win. Lester Alvarez and Dennis Santos each had 13 markers.

They created some distance from the Pampanga Giant Lanterns in the race for the fourth seed in the Northern Division while inching closer to the Makati Skyscrapers for the third seed.

Labing-Isa and Paul Sanga each tallied 21 points, while Ambuludto added 11 markers, 13 boards, and one block for the Supremos, who fell to a tie with the Pasay Voyagers for the eighth seed in the North. Caloocan holds the tiebreaker due to its 78-72 head-to-head win.

The Scores:

Bulacan 81 - Dela Cruz 14, Alvarez 13, Santos 13, Escocio 11, Siruma 11, Alabanza 7, Diputado 6, Arim 3, Taganas 2, Nermal 1, De Mesa 0, Antipuesto 0.

Caloocan-Victory Liner 79 - Sanga 21, Labing-isa 21, Ambulodto 11, Escalambre 8, Tongco 7, Sarangay 6, Marilao 5, Cervantes 0, Lasco 0, Gonzales 0.

Quarterscores: 20-15, 43-33, 65-60, 81-79.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno