MPBL: Imus escapes past Marikina in a thrilling finish

STOP Yves Sazon and you stop the Marikina Shoemasters.

That solid game plan was utilized by the Imus Bandera-GLC Truck and Equipment to perfection to eke out a 72-71 win in the MPBL Datu Cup at the Marist School Gymnasium.

Sazon was coming to Wednesday’s game as the tournament’s best scorer, averaging 30 points per game, but was shut down by the Bandera’s defenders, particularly Genmar Bragais.

In fact, Bragais, even outplayed Sazon on the offensive end.

Bragais finished the game with nine points while Sazon was held to just seven.

“Nakita mo na, hindi ba kapag dumedepensa ka nakaka-shoot ka rin? Depensa muna bago opensa,” Imus coach Jerry Codiñera told Bragais while inside the locker room right after the team’s first win.

It was the first victory of the Bandera in three games, the same record now being held by the Shoemasters, who dropped their last two games after winning the season opener.

Down the stretch, Ian Melencio, who struggled all game long, scored the go-ahead basket in the last 14 seconds.

In contrast, the Shoemasters, who mounted a big rally in the final two minutes, couldn’t complete their run in the endgame as they missed two of their last four free throws — including crucial misses from Sazon and Ronald Roy.