Cedric de Joya proved to be the biggest man on the floor for Batangas as it moved on to the 2017 PBA D-League playoffs with a come-from-behind 95-88 victory over Gamboa Coffee Mix Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The diminutive playmaker stepped up when it mattered the most, firing 11 points in the final four minutes as he helped the Batangueños come back from an 81-75 deficit and nab their sixth win.
De Joya unloaded 31 points and eight assists to lead his side to the quarterfinals.
Cedric Ablaza chimed in 17 markers, seven rebounds, and three dimes, Jhaps Bautista shot 3-of-8 from threes to wound up with 15 points, four boards, and two assists, and John Ragasa had 11 in the huge victory.
“I’m already happy with this,” said coach Eric Gonzales as he fulfilled his goal for the team to advance to the playoffs. “But again, we still have to play the right way. Hopefully, we pull off miracles in the next games.”
Batangas still has a chance to grab the fourth seed, armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, if it beats Flying V or CEU drops its final game against Racal Motors on Tuesday.
It was quite a scare for the Batagueños as they were challenged by a game Coffee Lovers crew from the get-go.
Jett Vidal drilled back-to-back treys to erect the six-point advantage for Gamboa with 4:02 to play, but the 5-foot-6 De Joya stepped up and led the huge fightback, with Bautista and Jhygruz Laude also chipping in the go-ahead buckets for Batangas to fend off the Coffee Lovers.
“Maybe they’re not used to the playoff games. That’s my major concern because these guys has no experience. So we have to always remind them on the right things to do on the court,” said Gonzales.
Playing-coach Leo Avenido captained his side with 22 points, four rebounds, and three assists, while Vidal had 14 in Gamboa Coffee Mix’s ninth straight defeat to exit with a 1-9 slate.
BATANGAS 95 – De Joya 31, Ablaza 17, Bautista 15, Ragasa 11, Laude 7, Dela Peña 4, Zamora 4, Anderson 2, Isit 2, Mendoza 2, Mag-isa 0, Napoles 0, Saitanan 0.
GAMBOA COFFEE MIX 88 – Avenido 22, Vidal 14, Jumao-as 12, Montuano 12, Parala 12, Acibar 6, Padilla 6, Arellano 2, Sarangay 2, Riva 0.
Quarters: 23-22, 39-43, 68-64, 95-88.