Rhaffy Octobre the unlikely hero as Batangas City deals Pampanga 1st MPBL loss

Rhaffy Octobre outplayed Balti Baltazar as Batangas City handed Pampanga its first MPBL loss this year. MPBL
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Batangas City found an unlikely hero in Rhaffy Octobre as the home side put an end to Pampanga' perfect run in the MPBL with a 95-92 win on Thursday night at the Batangas State University Gym in Batangas City.

In a team led by prolific scorers Levi Hernandez and Jong Baloria, it was Octobre who went clutch for the Embassy Chill, burying three straight jumpers that helped them escape the Giant Lanterns' dominance.

With the game tied, 83-all, Octobre hit a three-pointer that gave Batangas City an 86-83 lead with 2:55 remaining.

After MJ Garcia's layup off a timeout, Octobre buried another triple to give his team a four-point cushion, 89-85, with 1:50 to go.

Encho Serrano began willing Pampanga back in the game with a layup of his own even as the team appeared to be forcing a shotclock violation on Batangas City following a Balti Baltazar block on John Ambuludto

But Octobre retrieved the loose ball and beat the shotclock buzzer with a mid-range jumper for a 91-87 Embassy Chill lead with 1:10 left.

Serrano hit a quick layup off the timeout to cut the lead back to two, 91-89, but he missed his next two clutch attempts including an open pull-up three off a 2-for-1 chance that could have given the Giant Lanterns the lead back.

Ambuludto then made up for his blocked attempt by scoring a reverse layup that put the lead back to four, 93-89, with 12.1 seconds left.

John Lloyd Clemente missed on a quick triple off Pampanga's last timeout, and Dawn Ochea made two free throws that sealed Batangas City's win.

Kurt Reyson gave one last threat with a three-pointer, but that was all the Giant Lanterns could do in the end as the Embassy Chill finally scored a win against them after three failed head-to-head tries.

Hernandez and Octobre each scored 19 points to lead Batangas City, which tied Zamboanga in second place in the Southern Division at 14-4, 1.5 games behind conference-leading Bacoor City.

Serrano finished with 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists, while Baltazar added 17 points, 22 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and one steal for Pampanga, which lost for the first time this season after a 17-0 start.

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