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Laguna downs Marikina in crucial MPBL clash

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MANILA — Laguna Heroes regained its bearing in the final period to subdue Marikina Shoemasters, 63-61, in a crucial Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup clash, at the Caloocan Sports Complex on Thursday night.

In a showdown with huge playoff implications, the Heroes found their scoring touch just in time to edge the Shoemasters.

Down 43-47 after three quarters, Laguna started the fourth frame with six straight points to take a 49-47 lead.

Marikina stayed in pace and even reclaimed the lead, 56-55, with 3:58 to go.

The Heroes went on a 6-1 mini-run to take the lead for good, 61-57, with 17 seconds remaining.

The Shoemasters still threatened as they scored on four straight free throws against a Heroes’ split, courtesy of Paolo Pontejos, to cut the lead down to one, 62-61, with just eight seconds left.

Laguna, however, managed to milk most of the remaining time before Jay-Ar Ng Sang finally fouled Marlon Adolfo with only two seconds on the clock.

Adolfo made his first free throw and missed the second, but Jondan Salvador failed to throw a desperation heave in time.

Pontejos finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal for the Heroes, who jumped to seventh place in the Southern Division at 9-11.

Michael Mabulac added a double-double of 12 points and 18 rebounds with three rebounds and one block.

Erwin Sta. Maria dropped 19 points, four rebounds, and one assist for the Shoemasters, who fell to a tie with the Zamboanga Valientes for 10th place in the South at 7-11. (PNA)