Athletics turn back Strikers in tightly-fought, gripping match

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BATANGAS CITY — Jason Melano and Jeff Viernes each finished with a double-double performance and sparked the Batangas City-Tanduay Athletics in pulling the rug from under the favored Bacoor Strikers, 68-67, in a thrilling MPBL Lakan Season match late Tuesday night at the Batangas City Coliseum here. 

Melano, the hardworking forward picked up by the Athletics in the offseason, came away with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

The ex-pro also picked up a steal from Micahel Canete in the closing seconds of the match that led to the game-winning transition basket from Mon Rogado as the Athletics rallied from 16 points down to complete a come-from-behind win over the Strikers.

Viernes, who missed the team’s last two games, returned and ended up with 11 points and 10 assists.

Known from delivering in clutch situations, the spitfire guard proved why he’s one of the top players in the league when he knocked in a step back three-point basket entering the final two-minute mark, allowing the Athletics to complete a come-from-behind win.

The Athletics won for the second straight game and improved their win-loss record to 5-3, good for sixth spot in the southern division.

Bacoor absorbed its third loss in 11 games and fell to third spot of the southern division of this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.

It was a tough loss for Bacoor, which still led by nine, 64-55, after Gab Banal hit a lay up in the 4:08 mark of the match.

But the Strikers were held without a field goal after that and the Athletics closed it out with a strong 14-3 wind up.

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