By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Basilan Steel Jumbo Plastic produced more in the clutch as they prevailed over a tough Iloilo United Royals, 70-63, knocking them out of the MPBL playoff race.
A nip-and-tuck affair the whole game, the United Royals had to finish the entire fourth quarter without royal enforcer Richard Escoto as he suffered a right ankle sprain after landing on Bobby Balucanag’s foot on a trey attempt. The play was deemed unsportsmanlike with the referees ejecting Balucanag.
Without Escoto, still Iloilo managed to keep the game close through better ball movement and crisp passes, notching a total of 14 assists.
Tamsi kept the United Royals within striking distance and provided some much-needed offense from the perimeter, finishing the game with 16 huge points. Tamsi’s return provided a huge lift for the Royals, making four three-pointers the last of which ties the game at 63 with under two minutes to play in the final quarter.
In the next possession however, Gilas cadet Bulanadi converted a basket after driving it hard to the cup, putting Basilan up 65-63. He then followed it up with a clutch stare-down three to bring their lead to five with the game going into its final 49 seconds.
Jay Collado then sealed the game with two clutch free throws to finish the game. 70-63.
Basilan- Collado 18, Bautista 12, Bulanadi 11, Balucanag 7, Daa 5, Dagangon 4
Iloilo- Tamsi 16, Escoto 13, Publico 7, Jeruta 7, Parker 6, Prado 6, Golla 2