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Benitez, Rizal pull off a shocker against the Batangas City Athletics

by Eugene Flores, August 13, 2019 6:12pm

The Rizal Xentro Mall Golden Coolers led by Mark Benitez erased a 20-point lead to upset the Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay, 78-76, in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Cup at the Strike Gymnasium in Bacoor, Cavite.

Batangas was leading the entire game and had a 13-point advantage to start the fourth quarter before Mark Benitez nailed a three-pointer to put them behind with a point, 71-72, with 2:48 minutes left. Jason Melano then replied with a running layup to give Batangas a three-point lead. Coach Jayvee Gayoso called a timeout that resulted in another cold-blooded trey by Benitez, tying the game 74 apiece.

Both squads went empty on the next possessions before Benitez drew a foul on Dennice Villamor with 36 seconds left. Benitez then, with the ice on his veins, calmly sank the two free throws to give Rizal their first taste of the lead, 76-74.

Melano turned the ball over on the next play that resulted in a Jayvee Vidal layup. Melano scored again to make it a one-possession ball game, 76-78 with seven seconds remaining. Batangas forced a five-second ball hogging violation leaving a window for them but Villamor missed the potential game-winning three-pointer.

Benitez torched the scoring with 27 points, including six treys, and eight rebounds. Vidal added 18 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.

While Batangas wasted the 21 points and 14 rebounds performance of Melano as well as Jhaymo Eguilos' 14 markers and eight boards. Mike Olayon, Derek Ramsay and Jeff Viernes were the notable players who did not play for Batangas.

The upset victory ended Rizal's six-game losing skid for a 2-7, win-loss record while Batangas dropped their consecutive games for a 3-3 card.

Batangas will be up next against the loud and jampacked arena of the Pasig Sta. Lucia Realtors on August 16 while Rizal will play the Pasay Voyagers at the Cuneta Astrodome on August 19.

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