ANTIPOLO, Philippines – After going down by as many as 16 points, the Makati Skyscrapers rallied all the way back up to drop the Manila Stars, 99-98, in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) at the Ynares Center here on Thursday night, June 28.
Jeckster Apinan provided the heroics for the Makati side, driving for the game-winning layup over Fil-Am Marvin Hayes with 6 seconds remaining.
EARLIER: Ex-PBA pro Jeckster Apinan wins it for the Makati Skyscrapers over the Manila Stars, 99-98!— JR Isaga (@JRnalistic) June 28, 2018
Manila led by as many as 16, 60-44, in the third quarter.
Apinan with game-highs: 24 points, 8 rebounds. Cedrick Ablaza, Philip Paniamogan add 23 and 21 apiece. pic.twitter.com/dVH8twrE9Y
With no timeout left for Manila, Reil Cervantes flung a half-court shot, which drew air as time expired.
Apinan, the former NLEX Road Warrior and Mahindra Enforcer player in the PBA, finished with a game-high 24 points and 8 rebounds to lead Makati
“Di lang kami gumive-up sa depensa namin,” said Apinan. “Sabi ni coach, wag lang kaming magsawa dumepensa at makukuha din namin [yung panalo]. Bibigay rin yung Manila, so yun, nakuha namin.”
(We just didn’t give up on our defense. Coach told us that we shouldn’t give up defending and we’d eventually get the win. Manila was bound to give in, and there, we got it.)
“Kung ano yung tiwala sakin, sinusuklian ko lang,” the former Jose Rizal University (JRU) standout said of his game-winner.
(Whatever trust they gave me, I’m just giving it back.)
Cedrick Ablaza chipped in 23 points while Philip Paniamogan added 21 for the Skyscrapers, who trailed by as many as 16 points, 40-66, in the 3rd quarter.
Chris Bitoon led the way for the Stars with 24 points and 4 assists in just 24 minutes.
The Stars were in the lead for most of the first half, with Adrian Celada draining a triple to put Manila up by 14 points, 53-39, with 53 seconds left before halftime.
Celada was lights-out from downtown, going 4-of-6 (67%) from beyond the arc for a total of 15 points.
He already had two threes at the half, before the lights literally went out at Ynares Center, causing a 10-minute delay.
When the lights came back on, it was still the same story for Manila in the 3rd quarter, until the Skyscraper trio of Apinan, Ablaza and Paniamogan cut the deficit to 6, 68-74, entering the 4th.
Celada made one final triple at the 2:16 mark of the payoff period for the 5-point lead, 95-90. But the Skyscrapers aggressively fished for fouls and sank 5 free throws in the process for a 97-95 edge.
Manila last led after a tying Bitoon layup and a free-throw from Aris Dionisio, 98-97.
Makati (99) – Apinan 24, Ablaza 23, Paniamogan 21, Lingganay 16, Lasquety 4, Isip 4, Manlangit 3, Mocon 2, Bautista 2, Villanueva 0, Mangahas 0, Importante 0.
Manila (98) – Bitoon 24, Cervantes 17, Celada 15, Lopez 12, Rodriguez 11, Hayes 9, Dionisio 5, Sabellina 4, Arellano 1, Cruz 0, Yap 0.
Quarter scores: 22-27, 41-54, 68-74, 99-98.