VALENZUELA flubbed and floundered down the stretch before escaping a hard-fighting Basilan, 96-94, in the MPBL Datu Cup at the Valenzuela Astrodome Saturday night.
The Classic squandered a 10-point lead inside the final four-minute mark, but a 10-0 run by the Steel kept the collective breath of the Valenzuela folks who packed the venue hanging.
Ar-Raouf Julkipli’s triple in the 2:29 mark of the match knotted the count for the last time at 85-all as the team from Mindanao threatened on snatching a win from the host squad.
But Rocky Acidre answered back with a trey of his own 11 seconds later, allowing the CDO Idol Cheesedog-backed Classic their second wind.
Down to the final two minutes, Basilan stayed in the thick of the fight.
Dennis Daa picked up a foul from ex-PBA player Chad Alonzo and made two free throws as Basilan threatened, 88-87, but Acidre came through with another cold-blooded trey as Valenzuela was poised to put away its rival from there.
But just when everybody thought Basilan was about to fold up, the Steel stayed tough.
The team was only down by two with 10 seconds left and got a chance to tie the count after Alonzo missed the second of his two foul shots.
Forced to rush at the other end, Daa drove hard, but lost the ball during the play. A frustrated Basilan coach Joseph Romarate entered the court to protest the non-call and he was slapped with a technical foul with only two seconds left.
Acidre missed the technical free throw and missed two more during a foul in the breakaway play.
Macky Acosta got the rebound in the process, but lost the ball as time expired, allowing Valenzuela to escape with the win, its first in two matches.
“It was a character win. Coming from a loss, it’s never easy, especially against this tough Basilan team, ” said Valenzuela coach Chris Gavina. “This south team is really formidable. I gave a lot of credit to the coaching staff.”