Batangas nears playoffs, ousts Racal from playoff race
Batangas booted Racal Motors out of the playoff race and closed in on a quarterfinal seat in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup with a 95-90 triumph Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Without leading scorer Joseph Sedurifa, who has since been called up by Meralco in the PBA, the Batangueños leaned on the trio of Jessie Saitanan, Jhaps Bautista, and Cedrick Ablaza to carry the load and improve their standing to 5-3.
Saitanan topped Batangas with 19 points and six rebounds, Bautista shot 3-of-7 from threes and wound up with 18 markers, eight boards, four assists, and two steals, and Ablaza tallied a double-double in tune of his 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“I’m very thankful to God for helping us sustain this game and I’m thankful to the players that even though Joseph is not with us, we were still able to respond to the challenge,” said coach Eric Gonzales.
Paolo Pontejos tried to bring Racal back in the game late, cutting the deficit to as low as two, 92-90, with 31.9 seconds left, but Ablaza calmly drained two freebies to seal the win for Batangas in the clutch.
It was a sorry defeat for Racal, which made the Finals last conference but will now miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 Foundation Cup with a 3-5 card.
Pontejos drilled 26 points to lead his side in the losing effort, while Jamil Ortuoste had 10.
BATANGAS 95 – Saitanan 19, Bautista 18, Ablaza 17, De Joya 10, Isit 8, Zamora 7, Napoles 4, Ragasa 4, Dela Peña 3, Laude 2, Anderson 2, Mendoza 1, Mag-isa 0.
RACAL MOTORS 90 – Pontejos 26, Ortuoste 10, Ayonayon 9, Capacio 8, Cortes 8, Tallo 7, Apreku 6, Gomez 6, Mangahas 4, Cabrera 3, Grimaldo 3, Faundo 0, Octubre 0, Lozada 0.
Quarters: 21-19, 49-43, 73-69, 95-90.