Foton, banged up and all, displayed its resiliency on Friday night, leading to an 87-82 stunner over Jumbo Plastic as the second round of the 2016 PCBL Chairman’s Cup got going at the Marikina Sports Center.
Already missing the services of ace wingman Levi Hernandez who is sidelined by a sore Achilles heel, the Toplander still had to overcome the exit of top guard Mikee Reyes in the third canto due to an apparent right knee injury and the fourth-quarter explosion of Linoleum Giants gunner James Martinez before pulling off the morale-boosting victory.
“It’s a character win for us,” said Foton coach Budds Reyes, visibly impressed with how the Toplander kept their poise to improve their mark to 3-4, tying Jumbo Plastic in the process.
“Imagine wala na si Levi ngayon tapos nabawasan pa kami dahil sa injury ni Mikee. ‘Yung import (Ibrahim Outtara) nga namin hindi ko na ginamit halos dahil may toncilitis pa. The boys just showed how they really wanted to win this one,” added Reyes, whose wards also avenged a 68-79 defeat dealt by Junbo Plastic in their previous meeting last March 30.
Forward Jeric Nacpil had a team-high 18 points, 14 of them coming in the second half, while Foton teammates Cedrick Ablaza and Ed Rivera added at least 14 markers, highlighted by several clutch buckets that doused cold water on the searing Jumbo Plastic fightback from 19 points down.
Martinez, a former University of the East standout, fired 14 of his team-high 18 markers in the fourth where he knocked down four triples that saw the Linoleum Giants pull the closest at 81-85 with 41 ticks to play.
But the Toplander held its ground defensively from then on as they forced Giants guard Jeff Viernes to take a harried triple, leading to Nacpil’s insurance freebies with 4.2 seconds to play.
Going down the drain with Jumbo Plastic’s loss was the 16-point, 10-rebound, four-block showing by former University of the East import Moustapha Arafat, who made his debut.
The younger Reyes, who collected 14 points, seven boards and five assists, will undergo an MRI examination on Saturday, according to his father Budds. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Foton (87) – Nacpil 18, Ablaza 17, Reyes 14, 14, Rivera 14, Moraga 9, Gomez 6, Enriquez 5, Penaflor 4, Outtara 0.
Jumbo Plastic (82) – Martinez 18, Arafat 16, Viernes 12, Santos 8, Bitoon 8, Arellano 6, Siruma 6, Eguilos 4, Perez 2, Ibay 2, Taganas 0.
Quarterscores: 20-15; 49-36; 69-55; 87-82.