CALBAYOG CITY – Leyte Conquerors displayed excellent composure when they needed it most in the endgame in carving out a scary win over the host city, 74-72, at the Calbayog City Sports Center, Feb. 7.
Gleen Montero of Villaba NHS calmly sank four pressure-packed free throws in the dying seconds of the final canto, with the last two giving Leyte 74-72 cushion in the last 11 seconds.
Calbayog City had two golden opportunities to extend the game into overtime as marquee player Rolando Silao found Russel Ayohan for a point-blank shot but missed wildly and they scrambled their final possession in the last 2.8 seconds sending Leyte to the Semi-Finals.
Leyte will play against Borongan City, which dethroned defending champion Ormoc City, in the Semi-Finals.
“We played composed in the endgame especially Montero, giving us the win in this nice and close game,” said Coach Miguel Louies Dajotoy of Balocawehay NHS.
Montero poured 16 points of his 19 points in the second half scoring on close range baskets off offensive rebounds and free throws to lead Leyte.
Ivan Mattew Pakiding, who started the game with two treys finished the game with 18 points including five straight points midway in the fourth quarter for a 69-68 hairline lead.
Leyte engaged a tight battle in the first half as both teams tried to outclass each other but Leyte got a 34-33 lead at halftime behind Pakiding’s 12 points.
Leyte opened the third period with a 5-0 blast on a shot from beyond the arc and layup by Wifred Antonio Malibago of Dulag NHS to erect their largest lead at 39-33.
Calbayog City launched 19-9 run to regain the lead at 52-48 then Leyte responded with a 10-0 bomb on five points by Jericho Lanugan of Damulaan NHS. In the battle marked by 16 lead changes, Calbayog City seemed to coast to victory after Silao connected on a rainbow shot for their largest lead at 68-62.
A split free throw by Christian Carl Mercolita of Don Mariano MNHS capped 8-2 run that tied the count at 70-70 with 80 seconds left in the game.
In the ensuing play, Silao was fouled by Mercolita and connected on his free throws for 72-70 advantage to the delight of the jam-packed home crowd.
Executing their half-court offense, Pakiding missed a drive to the basket shot but Montero came to the rescue with an offensive rebound causing Calbayog to commit a foul as he attempted a follow-up shot.
Montero tied the game with two free throws at 72-72 and Leyte succeeded in having defensive stop and finally grabbing back the lead behind Montero’s two more free throws for 74-72 lead that served as the final score.
Silao leads the host city with 18 points followed by Quert Apari, who has 12 points.
(By Felix Asis)
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