The Bataan Risers dropped a closing 7-point salvo, the last four by James Castro, and bested the Quezon Huskers, 64-61, on Saturday in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the Bataan People’s Center in the City of Balanga.
With Quezon ahead, 61-57, following a two-handed slam by Ximone Sandagon, Bataan countered with a 3-point play by Jamil Gabawan, followed by a fastbreak drive by Castro, who sealed the count with two free throws, only 7.2 seconds to go.
Bataan leveled its record to 5-5 in the elimination round of the 29-team tournament while handing Quezon its third straight defeat after opening its campaign with seven straight wins.
Castro wound up with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists for Bataan, which drew 10 points from Kris Torrado, who went scoreless and committed a bad pass in the fourth quarter, and 9 points plus 9 rebounds from Gabawan.
Quezon had one final chance to force overtime, but Mon Abundo missed a triple try with 4 seconds to go and Castro collared the defensive rebound to snap Bataan’s two-game slide.
Raffy Verano, who also missed a triple attempt with 11 seconds left, posted 16 points and 7 rebounds for Quezon, which is sorely missing the services of big man Will Gozum. Only RJ Minerva was able to provide scoring support for Verano with 10 as top gunners Jeric Teng and Alfrancis Tamsi were held to 3 points each.
Earlier games saw the San Juan Knights trounce the Negros Muscovados, 73-66, and the Caloocan Batang Kankaloo subdue the Makati OKBet-Kings, 76-72.
San Juan climbed to 7-2 as it led wire-to-wire and as far as 70-5 behind the 18 points of AC Soberano and 10 each from Orlan Wamar, Marwin Taywan and Michael Calisaan, who also snagged 13 rebounds.
Negros tumbled to 4-6 as only Mark Maloles and Robin Rono struck back with 13 points each.
Caloocan rose to 6-4 behind the 13-point, 16-rebound output of Gabby Espinas and 11 points each from Jeramer Cabanag, Reil Cervantes and Paul Sanga.
Makati fell to 5-4 despite the 26-point effort of Rob Celiz and the 15-point contribution of Emman Calo.
The MPBL visits the Baliwag Star Arena on Monday with Imus battling Bacolod at 4 p.m., Bacoor clashing with Rizal at 6 p.m. and GenSan tangling with Bulacan at 8 p.m.