FACING the difficult task of matching up against one of the top guards in the league, RJ Ramirez proved he is one among the elites.
On Friday night, the newly-acquired guard went toe-to-toe against Almond Vosotros but got the last laugh when he delivered the crucial baskets needed and propelled Bacoor to a scary 95-94 win over host team Caloocan at the Caloocan Sports Complex.
Ramirez scored four of his team’s last six points in the extra period – a jumper that tied the game at 91-all with 1:05 left in the overtime and the getaway layup with 1.6 seconds left that served as the winning basket.
Caloocan sued for time and set up Paul Sanga for the last shot, but the veteran forward’s trey at the buzzer failed to hit the target, allowing the Strikers to pick up their fifth straight win and the solo lead in the southern division of this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
“Ang hirap pero masarap,” said pinch-hitting mentor Aldrin Morante, who took the reins in lieu of Chris Gavina, who was currently in Cagayan de Oro to help out the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in an out-of-town game.
“Kailangan mag-step up talaga lahat dahil ang daming wala sa team namin. Si RJ Ramirez, siya talaga pang-match up namin kay Vosotros kaya nag-stick kami sa kanya hanggang huli and he delivered.”
Bacoor won despite missing the services of key players — reigning MVP Gab Banal and team captain Oping Sumalinog, who had prior commitments.
In their absence, Mark Pangilinan and Mark Montuano stepped up along with Rocky Acidre.
Montuano contributed 16 points while Pangilinan had 15. Acidre came off the bench and produced eight.
But the remaining big guns hold the forth led by MPBL All-Star Michael Mabulac with 18 points and 12 rebounds and Michael Cañete, who had 17.