MPBL: Caloocan shocks Batangas; Bacolod, San Juan win

MPBL: Caloocan shocks Batangas; Bacolod, San Juan win
James Martinez delivered in time for Caloocan.

MANILA, Philippines – Caloocan Victory Liner caught Batangas City Embassy Chill napping in the fourth quarter and posted an 86-81 stunner in the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika PIlipinas Basketball League) on Thursday at the Batangas City Coliseum.

The Caloocan Excellence's come-from-behind triumph overshadowed the earlier victories of San Juan and Bacolod in the single round-robin elimination phase of the 22-team tournament.

San Juan Go for Gold trounced Rizal Xentromall, 89-79, while Bacolod Bingo Plus subdued Makati MNL Kingpins, 77-69.

Trailing by as many as 18 points, 50-68, late in the fourth quarter, the Caloocan Excellence banked on the hot hands of James Martinez and Jomar Santos to overhaul the deficit, notch their fifth win  against 13 losses and revive their bid for a quarterfinal slot in the 22-team tournament.

Martinez poured 12 points while Santos added 11 in the as the Excellence outscored the Batangas Embassy Chill, 34-14, in the last 10 minutes and handed the Athletics only their third loss in 19 starts.

Given up for dead, Caloocan can clinch the eighth and last playoff berth in the North Division if the Excellence can win their last three elimination assignments against the Sarangani Marlins, Muntinlupa Cagers and Makati MNL Kingpins.

Batangas was still ahead at 78-72, until Caloocan bunched 12 points, sparked by back-to-back triples by Jhygruz Laude and Martinez to seize control, 84-78, with 1:20 to go.

Cedric Ablaza and Vincent Importante managed to bring the score closer, 84-82, but Martinez sealed the outcome with 2 charities off Importante's fifth foul only 1.8 ticks left.

Santos wound up with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Martinez ended up with 14 points, six assists and two rebounds.

Laude contributed 18 points, four rebounds and four assists while Reil Cervantes also shone with 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Batangas got 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks from Ablaza and 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals from Jeckster Apinan. Juneric Baloria tallied 11 points and 3 assists for the Athletics, who have lost two of their last three games and now face the prospect of yielding the top spot in the South division to Zamboanga Family's Brand Sardines, which has a 14-3 slate.

San Juan, powered by Judel Fuentes' 22 points and Michael Calisaan's 16, climbed to 13-6, while Bacolod improved to 13-7 behind the 13-points and 16 rebounds of Mark Yee. Rizal dropped to 10-10, while also-ran Makati is at 1-18.



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