By Jerome Lagunzad
(Ynares Sports Arena)
3 p.m. – Gamboa vs Marinerong Pilipino
5 p.m. – AMA Online vs Tanduay
Marinerong Pilipino is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But veteran coach Koy Banal is reminding the Skippers to keep their focus up front, knowing it could be a speeding train ready to hit them head-on.
Veteran big man Mark Isip turned back the hands of time while wingman Julian Sargent made a pair of key plays down the stretch as Marinerong Pilipino pulled off a thrilling 83-82 victory over Wang’s Basketball yesterday to sustain its resurgence in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The 6-foot-4 Isip, one of the elder statesmen at 36, proved he still has enough gas left in the tank as he fired a personal conference-high of 29 points, eight of them coming in the final canto where Marinerong Pilipino trailed by as many as 13 inside the final five minutes.
But the Skippers dug deep and unleashed a blinding 16-2 windup, highlighted by John Lopez’s go-ahead undergoal stab off a Julian Sargent feed with 27.6 seconds left before the latter partially deflected the mid-range jumper of Couriers center Jun Gabriel just as time expired.
It was the third straight victory in a span of eight days for Marinerong Pilipino, which improved to an even 4-4 card and gained a hold of the sixth – and final playoff – spot with two games to spare – both against a pair of eliminated squads.
In the other match, Cedric Ablaza posted a double-double performance of 17 points and 10 rebounds while center Jessie Saitanan banged in 19 markers as Batangas eliminated Racal Motors from playoff contention, 95-90.
The Batangueños, fresh from a week-long break, got their campaign back on track and closed in on a quarterfinals spot with a 5-3 record, moving into a tie with idle Centro Escolar University from fourth to fifth places.
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