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Batangas City escapes Imus in grind-out Game 2 to sweep MPBL Playoffs tie

Ced Ablaza displayed a solid all-around game to help Batangas City book a place in the MPBL South Division semifinals. MPBL
By Ivan Saldajeno

BACOOR--Batangas City became the first South Division team to advance to the MPBL national quarterfinals after edging Imus, 61-59, in Game 2 of their first-round series on Tuesday night at the Bacoor City STRIKE Gymnasium.

Despite the "road game" atmosphere with many fans from this city trooping to the said arena to support their fellow Caviteno team, the Embassy Chill still found a way to eliminate the SV Squad in crunch time.

Trailing for most of the fourth quarter, Batangas City, which went 0-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half, hit three consecutive triples to take a 59-55 lead with 31 seconds left.

Carlo Lastimosa kept Imus in the game with two free throws after he was hacked by Levi Hernandez off a quick layup attempt to cut the lead down to two, 59-57, with 27 seconds remaining.

KG Canaleta, however, made a crucial blunder when he thought Jong Baloria's floater was way off the mark and tapped the ball out only for the referees to rule it as a goaltend, giving the Embassy Chill a 61-57 lead with 18 ticks on the clock.

Canaleta then missed the third of his three free throws that could have cut the lead down to one, but the SV Squad kept the possession due to the possession arrow.

Lastimosa and Jayjay Helterbrand, though, failed to hit the target with their layup attempts as time ran out on them.

Ced Ablaza led Batangas City, which will face the winner of the GenSan-Muntinlupa series in the South semis, with 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and one steal, while Levi Hernandez added 12 points and eight rebounds.

Lastimosa had 11 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals for Imus, which was knocked out despite having a good bunch of former PBA stars in their lineup.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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