The Pampanga Lanterns didn’t let their hometown crowd down.
Playing their last home game — and their last match of the MPBL Datu Cup – the Lanterns stayed tough on their way to scoring a tense 87-85 win over playoff-bound Zamboanga-Family’s Brand Sardines at the Angeles University Foundation Arena here late Saturday night.
Juneric Baloria scored five of his team’s last six points in the last 38 seconds as he helped Pampanga in ending the season on a winning note.
Pampanga ended its elimination round campaign with an 11-14 record, the same record being held by the Caloocan Supremos. But by virtue of the win over the other rule, the Supremos, who defeated the Lanterns in their only elimination round encounter, will get the eighth and last spot in the northern division of this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
Baloria, a deadshot guard, made things possible for Pampanga’s win.
He knocked in a triple in the 38-second mark to push his team up, 84-82.
Baloria’s former college teammate, Harold Arboleda, responded with a trey of his own in the next play to put Zamboanga ahead, 85-84.
In the next play, Baloria drove hard to the basket and was fouled in the process by Arboleda, then calmly sank both free throws still 12 seconds left and put the Lanterns back on the driver’s seat, 86-85.
With no timeouts left, Zamboanga rushed to the other end and Roño lost his balance while dribbling from the backcourt and turned the ball over.
Jeric Fabian was fouled with three seconds left and slit his charities, but that opened another opportunity for Zamboanga as guard Joseph Nalos heaved a desperation trey that fell short as the celebration in Angeles City erupted.
Earlier, Bacoor scuttled Basilan, 79-67, to stay in contention for the No. 5 spot.
Following its latest win and coupled by Zamboanga’s loss earlier, Bacoor can get the fifth spot in the southern division with a win against Parañaque in the continuation of its last five minutes match that was ordered to be replayed by Commissioner Duremdes due to technicality issues.