Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines courted disaster before nipping Nueva Ecija, 67-65, on Monday in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City.
Judel Fuentes knocked in two charities with 12.8 seconds left for Zamboanga’s marginal points that shattered the 65-65 deadlock forged by Nueva Ecija following a 5-point swing by Roi Sumang and Bryon Villarias in just 5 seconds of the back-to-back Mindanao Invasion thrillers.
Earlier, Batangas City Embassy Chill got the push from Jong Baloria in both the regulation and overtime periods to subdue Quezon Province, 84-80.
The Rice Vanguards also had a chance to extend the game, but Roi Sumang, hounded by Jaycee Marcelino, was unable to fire a jumper before the final buzzer.
Zamboanga raised its record to 18-8 and dislodged Quezon (17-8) from the fourth spot in the South division of the 29-team tournament.
Batangas drew eight points from Baloria in the last four minutes of regulation that ended at 72-72, then leaned on a triple by Baloria and two free throws by MJ Dela Virgen to climb to 21-5 in the South division being led by Bacoor (21-4).
Despite the loss, Nueva kept second spot behind Pampanga (23-2) in the North division with a 21-5 slate.
Marcelino, the reigning league MVP, posted 10 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals to earn best player honors over Fuentes, who wound up with 14 points and 2 rebounds.
Chris Dumapig also shone for Zamboanga with 9 points and 10 rebounds in the tight game that saw neither team ahead by more than six points.