Bicol revives MPBL semis hopes
John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - February 23, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Bicol-LCC Stores pulled the rug from under top seed Davao Occidental, 84-81, to forge a rubber match in the 2019-2020 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season quarterfinals Friday night at the Batangas State University Gym.

Stung by a close 77-71 loss in Game 1, the No. 8 Southern squad would not be denied this time against last year’s runner-up. The victory arranged a sudden-death Game 3 scheduled next Wednesday in Davao.

Alwin Alday led Bicol with all-around numbers of 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals while Jerome Garcia (18) and ex-pro Ronjay Buenafe (14) backed him up.

Hafer Mondragon also stepped up with 12 points and 10 rebounds to get the job done for the lowest-ranked Southern team looking to be a surprise semifinalist.

“It’s very hard to beat a powerhouse team so the job’s not yet done. We still need to work extra harder until the end,” said Bicol coach Monel Kallos.

Bicol actually looked headed toward elinination as it stared at a 54-63 deficit entering the payoff period before Alday spearheaded a 23-6 assault that gave the team a 77-69 lead in the last four minutes.

Despite losing Mark Yee to injury later on after a bad fall, the Tigers did not go down without a fight behind the combined efforts of Eman Calo, Billy Robles and Chester Saldua, who moved the team to within, 81-83.

But Alday came to Bicol’s rescue once again with an insurance freebie before Calo muffed a potential game-tying trey at the horn.

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