ALCANTARA, CEBU — The MJAS Zenith-Talisay City Aquastars sent the Visayas finals of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Cup to a winner-take-all Game Three after they edged the KCS Computer Specialist-Mandaue, 63-56, in Game Two on Saturday night at the Alcantara Civic Center in Alcantara, Cebu.
Sent to the brink of disaster after losing Game One, 66-67, the Aquastars looked out of it as they wasted a 13-point lead and trailed, 41-48, early in the fourth period. However, the tide turned after KCS’ defensive specialist Ping Exciminiano exited the game with 8:38 to go because of an apparent leg injury.
The Aquastars quickly took advantage as season MVP Jaymar Gimpayan, Darrell Shane Menina, Jhaymo Eguilos, Egie Boy Mojica and the team’s skipper, Paulo Hubalde came to life and sparked a 16-2 blast that put them ahead, 57-50.
However, KCS kept within striking distance and was within three, 56-59, after Gryann Mendoza split his charities with 1:19 remaining. Hubalde then extended Talisay’s lead to five, 61-56, by making a pair from the charity stripe after getting bumped off a pick and roll by KCS big man Bernie Bregondo.
KCS had several shots to trim the deficit but Shaquille Imperial and Mendoza missed several good looks from beyond the arc. The nail on KCS’ coffin got hammered in by Menina who picked up a loose ball after Mendoza slipped and went all the way for a layup to give the Aquastars a 63-56 lead with just 14 ticks left in the ballgame.
The Aquastars and KCS will do battle for all the marbles in Game Three on Sunday. Tip off is at 7 p.m.
Menina, a Mythical Five guard of the CESAFI, led Talisay City with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists while Hubalde, who was noticeably more aggressive on the offensive end, had 11 points, six boards, four assists and two steals.
Gimpayan added eight points, eight boards and three steals.
Exciminiano paced KCS with 14 points, eight rebounds, two dimes and three steals while Rhaffy Octobre and Mendoza chipped in 11 markers each, the latter piling on 13 rebounds, seven assists and a blocked shot. (JNP)