The moment Lester Alvarez’s triple in the last 11 seconds fell through the net, it was as if the mute button was pressed inside the raucous Pasig Sports Center.
With key baskets down the stretch from Alvarez and Jason Melano, the Batangas City Athletics silenced the Pasig Sta. Lucia Realtors and their legion of fans with a 67-62 win in their Friday night MPBL Lakan Season clash.
Batangas City, the Rajah Cup champions, climbed out of a 10-point hole in the third quarter and a 48-41 deficit at the start of the final period to shock Pasig and earn their fourth victory in the tournament out of seven games. The Realtors, on the other hand, saw their historic five-game winning run fizzle out at the hands of the visiting Athletics.
An 11-2 run capped off by a layup from Arvin Tolentino, gave the Tanduay-backed Athletics a 52-50 advantage with 6:35 left in the contest. Both teams traded baskets and lead from thereon with Pasig regaining the upper hand, 61-60, in the final 2:01 courtesy of a Jeric Serrano putback.
With the game down to its final 52 seconds, Melano took the lead back for Batangas City, 63-61, on a three-point play off a foul from Josan Nimes.
In the Realtors’ ensuing play, a reach-in foul whistled on Jayson Grimaldo would send Serrano to the charity stripe with a chance to force another deadlock. Serrano though would split his freebies, allowing Batangas to retain ball possession with 36 ticks remaining in the match.
With the shot clock winding down, Alvarez knocked down a cold-blooded game-clinching triple which pushed Batangas City ahead 66-62.
In just his third game of the season, Alvarez poured in 12 points along with 4 assists for the Athletics. Grimaldo tallied a double-double consisting of 12 points and 15 rebounds, plus 4 blocks.
Jeric Teng also posted a double-double made up 19 points and 12 rebounds while knocking down five of his 13 three-point attempts. Nimes chipped in 18 markers and seven boards.
Pasig spitfire Robbie Manalang was held to a season-low five points – missing eight of his nine triples – all thanks to the leech-like defense of Genmar Bragais.
The Bong Dela Cruz-mentored Realtors absorbed their third loss in nine contests.
Batangas City made full advantage of their height and heft, scoring 44 inside points compared to just 20 by Pasig. Bench scoring also went the way of the Goldwyn Monterverde-coached quintet, 39-23.