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Basilan escapes late Pasig run to enter MPBL Invitational final

Michael Juico sizzled anew for the Steel. Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas/MPBL
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Basilan survived a rough second half to beat Pasig, 77-72, for the first spot in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational final following the result of their semifinal showdown on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Just when things looked bright for the Steel following a 49-35 halftime lead, the Realtors put up a fight in the second half but eventually fell short.

Basilan slowed down a bit in the third quarter, only making 16 points, but the team still held a 65-53 cushion entering the fourth quarter.

Pasig, however, started the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to just five, 67-62 with 7:09 left.

The Steel responded with five unanswered points to increase their lead back to 10, 72-62, with 4:37 to play.

The Realtors had one last push, trimming the lead down to four, 76-72, with 27 seconds remaining, but the Steel held on.

Michael Juico made 23 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals, and one block to lead Basilan, which will await the winner of the other semifinal between Imus and Nueva Ecija, which is ongoing as of posting, in the championship game on Thursday night.

Jay Collado added 17 points and four rebounds.

Fran Yu fired 22 markers, two boards, four dimes, and three swipes for Pasig, which has been relegated to the battle for third place also on Thursday.

The Scores:

Basilan-Jumbo Medical 72 - Juico 23, Collado 17, Serrano 14, Gimpayan 11, Uyloan 9, Reyes 1, Bondoc 1, Siruma 1, Manalang 0, Taganas 0, Bringas 0.

Pasig-Sta. Lucia 72 - Yu 22, Bautista 13, Apinan 12, Mina 6, Arana 5, Lingganay 5, Teng 4, Ablaza 3, Costelo 2, Caralipio 0, Chan 0.

Quarterscores: 24-16, 49-35, 65-53, 77-72.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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