Cebu inches closer to playoffs berth

THE Cebu-Casino Ethyl Alcohol bolstered their chances of making the playoffs after they took down the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, 77-73, in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season, at the Strike Gymnasium in Bacoor on Monday night, Jan. 20, 2020.

And although Cebu led for most of the game, it still had to pull out all the stops in the endgame after Nueva Ecija pulled to within two, 73-75, after baskets from Tonino Gonzaga and Justin Arana with 33.4 ticks remaining.

However, veteran guard Harold Cortes whittled down the clock and fished a foul from Jai Reyes with 11.2 seconds left. He made two free-throws to push Cebu’s lead to four and essentially seal the victory.

The Rice Vanguards were unable to put up a shot in the final 11 seconds of the game to hand Cebu its 12th win in 25 games. More importantly, Cebu is now just half a game behind Bicol for the eighth and final spot in the Southern playoffs.

“My defensive players got in the game and we switched everything. They were not able to attempt a shot,” said Cebu coach Noynoy Falcasantos on the team’s last defensive play.

Former University of the Visayas Green Lancers forward Rhaffy Octobre led the way for Cebu with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go with two boards and an assist. Former Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. Mythical Five member John Saycon and Nichole Ubalde added identical 11-point, four-rebound stat lines for Cebu while Kraniel Viloria had 10 markers.

Reyes ended up with 14 points, five rebounds, five dimes, three steals but committed five turnovers for Nueva Ecija, who slid to 8-18 in the North. (JNP)