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PBA: Tanduay gains D-L quarters

By: Jerome Lagunzad

Games Tomorrow
(Ynares Sports Arena)
3 p.m. – Marinerong Pilipino vs Wang’s Basketball
5 p.m. – Racal Motors vs Batangas

Tanduay achieved its immediate goal last night, but coach Lawrence Chongson felt the Rhum Masters still have some rough edges to deal with ahead of tougher battles ahead.

Thanks to the heroics of Paul Varilla and James Martinez in the final canto, Tanduay survived a hard-fighting Wang’s Basketball crew, 93-8, and clinched a playoff ticket in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

The off-the-bench Martinez tallied a team-high 16 points, seven of them coming in the decisive frame, while Varilla banged in five crucial points in a telling 11-4 run in the final 2:25 of play as the Rhum Masters overcame the Couriers’ last-ditch fightback.

More importantly, Tanduay racked up its third straight victory and sixth overall against two losses, tightening its hold of the third spot while clinching a quarterfinal seat in the process.

But the Rhum Masters’ latest performance left Chongson much to be desired. “We have to stay sharp. ‘Yung focus dapat andu’n lalo na sa transition defense. And we’re really putting emphasis on the team’s collective focus,” he said.

Michael Juico rammed in 11 of his game-high 24 points in the final frame as he tried to keep the Couriers in the thick of the fight, only to see Varilla, veterans JR Taganas, Lester Alvarez and Jom Sollano keep the Rhum Masters steady in the crunch.

The loss snapped its two-game winning streak and caused Wang’s Basketball to slide down to fifth spot with a 5-4 mark, half-a-game behind Centro Escolar University (5-3).

Earlier, Marinerong Pilipino proved too much to handle for eliminated Zark’s Burgers 119-74 and kept its flickering playoff hopes alive.

Guard Pao Javelona dished out an all-around performance of a team-high 17 markers, seven assists, four boards, and three steals while six other teammates added at least 11 points each as the Skippers immediately asserted their dominance over the Jawbreakers.

“We just want to break their spirit early on, pound them and attack them,” said Marinerong Pilipino coach Koy Banal, clearly impressed with his wards’ decisive 17-7 start and a sustained attack despite the entry of former pro league star Mac Cardona to Zark’s Burgers.