Euro-Med and Biyaheng SCTEX hurdled their respective rivals in similar hard-fought matches to move a win away from securing the last two semifinals berths of the PCBL Chairman’s Cup at the Marikina Sports Center Friday.
Pushed to the limit by a game Foton squad, Euro-Med relied on ex-pros Lester Alvarez and Jopher Custodio for the important baskets down the stretch and preserved a 77-73 win to take the head start of their best-of-three quarterfinals series.
Nearly overshadowed by Euro-Med’s win was Biyaheng SCTEX’s thrilling overtime win over an import-less yet game Sta. Lucia Realty, 77-72, in the other game of this tournament supported by Hahn Manila, During’s Barbeque and Restaurant, Leatherman, Ambucore and Spalding.
Alvarez, a member of PBA grand slam team San Mig Coffee, came through with back-to-back baskets in a span of 40 seconds as he tried to kept the hard-fighting Toplander at bay. His basket in the 1:16 mark gave Euro-Med a 75-71 lead.
Levi Hernandez shoved the Toplander within a basket of a bucket of his own in the final 21 seconds, but with time against its side, Foton had to give up a foul as Cedrick Ablaza was forced to give up one on Custodio.
Custodio, who played for GlobalPort in the pro league, made his first free throw, but muffed the second, allowing the Toplander a chance to come up with a final offensive play.
Mikee Reyes took it upon himself, but missed a potential game-tying triple with no time left.
Custodio split his charities at the other end for the final tally.
In the second game, Raul Soyud came back from a one-game suspension and came away with a double-double performance to lead SCTEX to the win over Sta. Lucia.
Soyud, a 6-foot-6 slotman, finished with 19 points and 17 boards while Bayron Villarias also tallied 19 markers for SCTEX, which needed an extra five-minute stretch before pulling off a come from behind win over the Realtors.
Kent Salado’s basket in the 7:26 mark of the third gave the Realtors their biggest lead of the game, but SCTEX unleashed an 18-6 spurt capped by a technical free throw made by Pamboy Raymundo off a technical foul by Nico Bangga got the newest team in the league back in the game and trailing by only six, 53-47, 1:56 left in the third.
Jhaps Bautista put the Realtors ahead, 62-60, with a basket, 32 seconds in regulation before Soyud responded at the other end with a getaway layup and sent the match to overtime.
BIYAHENG SCTEX (77) – Villarias 19, Soyud 19, Batino 14, Raymundo 10, Sumalinog 5, Pangilinan 5, Okomo 3, Vitug 2, Del Rosario 0, Reyes 0.
STA. LUCIA (72) – Jamito 13, Bautista 12, Camasura 12, Salado 10, Bangga 8, Vidal 8, Javelona 5, Escosio 2, Ilagan 2, Castanarez 0.
Quarterscores: 20-11; 28-38; 49-55; 62-62; 77-72
EURO-MED (77) – Adeogun 20, Alvarez 16, Poligrates 14, Parala 11, Custodio 8, Almario 2, Capacio 2, Almario 2, Salamat 2, Salcedo 0, Gil 0, Galanza 0.
FOTON TOPLANDER (73) – Gomez 23, Hernandez 14, Reyes 13, Rivera 11, Ablaza 5, Ouattara 5, Nacpil 2, Enriquez 0.
Quarterscores: 14-16, 33-36, 53-50, 77-73.