Zamboanga pips Quezon to open MPBL playoff series

Zamboanga is joyous after taking the Game 1 win. MPBL
By Ivan Saldajeno

BACOOR--Zamboanga clipped Quezon, 77-68, to open up their MPBL South Division Playoffs first-round series on Saturday night at the Bacoor City Strike Gymnasium.

Zamboanga pulled away in the final four minutes of the game as the team not only took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series but also got a huge boost ahead of its home stand next week.

After Quezon, deprived of a homecourt advantage against Zamboanga right at the final game of the eliminations, drew to within four, 64-60, with 4:15 left, King Caralipio fired five straight points that sparked Zamboanga's game-deciding 9-0 run that upped its lead to its largest at 13, 73-60, with 1:18 to go.

Quezon tried to stay alive after going on an 8-1 run that trimmed the lead down to just, 74-68, with 50 seconds left, but a split from the free-throw line by Jaycee Marcelino coupled with a breakaway layup from twin brother Jayvee off a Damian Lasco steal iced the game for Zamboanga.

Jaycee Marcelino led Zamboanga with 20 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and one block for Zamboanga, while Judel Fuentes added 16 points on four threes, two rebounds, and two assists off the bench.

Topeng Lagrama led Quezon with 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

Game 2 is scheduled for next Saturday at the Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City.

If Quezon forces a Game 3 but the round-of-16 battle between Bacoor City and Iloilo ends in a 2-0 sweep, the rubber match will still be played in Zamboanga City the following Saturday.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno