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Bicol withstands QC to stay ahead in MPBL wildcard race

BIÑAN -- Bicol inched closer to getting a Southern Division playoff spot in the MPBL Lakan Season after subduing Quezon City, 89-87, at the Alonte Sports Arena here on Saturday night.

Ronjay Buenafe eventually won it for the Volcanoes after burying two free throws with 48.7 seconds left to break an 87-all tie.

But the most important play came from Chris Lalata, who stole the ball off a bad pass from Mark Olayon even as Buenafe ran the remaining 10 seconds on the clock.

"Nag-gamble na kami doon (We gambled there). We switched everyone kahit na may tendency na magkakaroon ng mismatch (even if there's a tendency of having a mismatch). Sabi ko lang, 'Recover lang agad.' Sakto pag-drive ni Olayon, nandoon si Chris (I told them: 'Just recover fast'. Good thing when Olayon made the drive, Chris was there)," Coach Monel Kallos said about the defensive gem.

Buenafe finished with 22 points, five rebounds, and three assists for Bicol, which moved up to 15-13, 1.5 games ahead of Cebu, which is playing Imus as of posting, for the last playoff spot in the South.

Bicol likewise is within a game of Batangas City for the seventh seed.

Ryan Costelo fired 25 markers with six boards, seven dimes, and one steal for QC, which sank further to 10-18.

The Scores:

Bicol-LCC Stores 89 - Buenafe 22, Garcia 16, Alday 14, Lalata 13, Aldave 11, Mondragon 4, Alfonso 3, Olea 3, Ongteco 2, Lao 1, Guerrero 0, Manalang 0, Gusi 0.

Quezon City-WEMSAP 87 - Costelo 25, Derige 16, Olayon 13, Castro 8, Medina 7, Sison 6, Barua 5, Atabay 3, Olea 2, Morillo 2, Gadon 0.

Quarterscores: 20-20, 38-40, 60-63, 89-87. (PNA)

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