MANILA, Philippines – Tanduay Light beat AMA University, 74-66, to stay in quarterfinals contention on Monday in the 2015 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
But the win doesn’t secure anything for the Rhum Masters’ fate and their head coach Lawrence Chongson has his fingers crossed from this point on.
“We’re now pinning our hopes on Racal,” said Chongson. “But before the game I told my players that we must take care of our end.”
The Rhum Masters though had trouble handling their business against the also-ran Titans, who were playing with nothing to lose.
“We got lucky. We were close to collapsing,” Chongson admitted after his team blew a 15-point lead with AMA, which was able to close to within three, 60-57, with still five minutes left.
Jaypee Belencion scored 17 points while John Foronda and Aljon Mariano chipped in eight points each for Tanduay, which improved to 5-6.
A win by Bread Story (4-6) over Racal Motors on Monday next week will propel them into the quarterfinals and boot out Tanduay due to the winner-over-the-other-rule.
“It’s hard to achieve consistency with the lineup that we have but I see their efforts,” Chongson said. “But sometimes, bad habits die hard.”
“The key to beating teams in the upper echelon is building the character of the team. Belencion, Sumang, Mandani, Mariano, our players are not no-namers. It’s just that we have to have the character if we want to beat the heavyweights,” Chongson added.
Mariano helped cushion his team’s lead with five unanswered points. He sank a 3-pointer and followed it up with a tough shot from close range that prevented the Titans from getting any closer down the stretch.
Joseph Eriobu also had 17 points while Jay-R Taganas just missed a double-double with eight points and 19 rebounds for AMA.
Earlier, Cafe France, already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, handed also-ran Wangs Basketball with a 68-50 beating. The Bakers, who missed the services of their starting center Rodrigue Ebondo due to an injury, ended their elimination round campaign with an impressive 9-2 record.