Mighty Sports, Jumbo Plastic take head start, near PCBL finals

Mighty Sports and Jumbo Plastic pulled off contrasting wins against their respective rivals at the start of the PCBL Chairman’s Cup best-of-three semifinals series and moved closer to setting up an interesting championship showdown.

On Sunday night, the two teams flexed their muscles in front of a good-sized crowd at the Malolos Sports Center.

Despite missing the services of top player Kiefer Ravena, who is in the United States to pursue personal training, Mighty Sports clobbered Euro-Med, 99-84, in a highly-physical encounter.

Jumbo Plastic, on the other hand, squandered a 19-point advantage and had to grind it out in overtime before outlasting Sta. Lucia Realty, 94-89.

Five players led by import Bright Akhuetie finished in double figures for Mighty Sports, which shot close to 45-percent from the three-point region and led by as much as 30 points (92-62) in displaying an overpowering performance.

Kevin Ferrer contributed 13 markers, Gab Banal and Allan Mangahas had 12 apiece and Drian Celada chipped in 11 in a display of balance firepower by Mighty Sports.

Jumbo Plastic, on the other hand, averted a near endgame collapse as it regained its composure down the stretch.

After losing a 35-16 second-quarter lead, the Linoleum Giants, the inaugural staging champion of this event supported by Hahn Manila, LGR, Spalding, Ambucore, During’s Barbeque and Restaurant, and Leatherman, had to endure repeated uprisings by the Realtors.

The Realtors closed out the third period with a strong 15-1 run to turn a 60-50 deficit to a 66-61 lead capped by Ivan Camasura’s basket.

Sta. Lucia was ahead by seven, 81-74, with less than two minutes to go, but Jeff Viernes, last conference’s Finals MVP, started Jumbo Plastic’s big run with a triple while a free throw each from Viernes, off a technical by Landry Sanjo, and Jaymo Eguilos, shoved the Linoleum Giants within a basket, 81-79, with still 50 seconds left.

As both teams missed on their respective offensive trips, Sta. Lucia had a chance to wrap things up with a good inbound play, but Jhaps Bautista threw a bad pass to Nico Bangga, who was caught stepping on the sidelines.

That allowed Jumbo Plastic import Mustafa Arafat to score the game-tying basket with a floater and send the game to an extra period.

Arafat then scored seven of his team’s nine points in overtime propelling Jumbo Plastic to the win.