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Zamboanga completes huge comeback to seal MPBL Finals date vs. Nueva Ecija

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG—It's Nueva Ecija versus Zamboanga in the MPBL National Finals.

Zamboanga booked the last seat to the Last Dance after rallying back from a huge deficit to stun Batangas City, 67-66, in the deciding game of the South Division Finals on Saturday night at the Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City.

Jaycee Marcelino sealed Zamboanga's late with the eventual game-winning layup with 38.7 seconds left as the home side denied the visitor from accomplishing a rare home-and-away playoff feat that the road teams have won each game of a postseason series.

Batangas City provided a late scare as its gamble of not fouling a Zamboanga player with the shot clock turned off paid off when Jeckster Apinan stole the ball from Marcelino's twin brother Jayvee with 4.1 seconds remaining.

However, Apinan failed to dish a nice pass to an open Ced Ablaza for what could have been the dagger layup and turned the ball over with 0.9 seconds left as Batangas City completely collapsed despite leading by as much as 19 points in the third quarter.

Jhaps Bautista led Zamboanga, which will travel to the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan on Friday night for Game 1 of the best-of-finals national finals, with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists, and one steal.

Jaycee Marcelino added 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, six steals, and one block.

Jong Baloria made 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and one block, while Ablaza added 14 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and one steal for Batangas City, which fell to the wrong end of a reverse sweep.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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