Jumbo Plastic back in PCBL finals after dumping Sta. Lucia in KO match

Jumbo Plastic brought its A-game on Friday’s rubber match to rip Sta. Lucia Realty, 70-56, and set up a best-of-three titular showdown with Mighty Sports in the PCBL Chairman’s Cup at the Marikina Sports Center.

Known for their explosive backcourt duo in Jeff Viernes and ex-pro James Martinez, the Linoleum Giants showed a different facet of their game by playing good team defense on their way to returning to the championship round.

The inaugural staging champion took away Sta. Lucia’s three-point shooting as guard Mark Lopez and swingmen Stephen Siruma and import Barracuda Arafat grounded Sta. Lucia top guns Jhaps Bautista and Jett Vidal.

Bautista was limited to only 10 markers, missing all his three attempts from beyond the arc. Vidal, on the other hand, was reduced to two points and could only attempt twice from the three-point area, missing both.

All in all, the Realtors, usually a steady three-point shooting team, went 0-for-10 from downtown.

“We concentrated on one area kung saan sila malakas, which is three-point shooting. Wala silang na-shoot na three-point shots tonight,” said Jumbo Plastic coach Stevenson Tiu.

The Linoleum Giants buckled down to work quickly on the defensive end, holding the Realtors to only two field goals in the first six and a half minutes of the game. With their defense clicking, Jumbo Plastic posted an early 14-4 lead.

Jumbo Plastic continued with its solid defensive game plan, keeping Sta. Lucia off target while making a run of its own. A 9-0 spurt in the second period capped by a Jay-R Taganas inside stab gave the Linoleum Giants a 44-24 lead with only 1:13 before the half time break.

The Linoleum Giants were never seriously threatened from there.

Taganas, a member of the Mythical Selection of the Founders Cup, came away with a double-double performance of 13 points and 15 rebounds while Lopez, reinserted into the starting unit in his team’s most crucial game, chipped in nine.

The scores:

JUMBO PLASTIC (70) – Taganas 13, Lopez 9, Martinez 9, Eguilos 8, Viernes 8, Arafat 8, Santos 6, Siruma 5, Ibay 4, Arellano 0.

STA. LUCIA (56) – Sanjo 17, Bautista 10, Salado 7, Javelona 6, Escosio 4, Ilagan 4, Camasura 2, Vidal 2, Castanarez 2, Bangga 2, Jamito 0, Gabriel 0.

Quartercores: 20-12, 44-28, 56-43, 70-56.