Villafranca tows Cebu City Sharks to crucial win
Cebu City, Philippines – Kevin Villafranca saved the Cebu City Sharks from the jaws of defeat as his putback with 2.4 seconds left lifted the Casino Ethyl Alcohol-backed squad to a 69-68 victory over the Pampanga Lanterns in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup on Saturday night, January 12, 2019, at the Angeles University Foundation gym.
Top gun Patrick Cabahug led the Sharks in scoring with 20 points while William McAloney added 13 markers and 13 boards.
The Sharks improved to 9-11 (win-loss) as the race for tickets to the playoffs intensifies in the south division.
Pampanga dropped to 7-12 in spite of the 22-point game of Michael Juico.
The Sharks appeared to be headed to the easy win as they established an 11-point lead, 58-47, at the onset of the fourth canto after a lay-up by Joel Lee Yu.
However, the homecourt-toting Lanterns got their acts together and rallied to take the lead, 68-67, after a long three pointer from the right wing by wingman Jong Baloria.
On the Sharks’ offensive, off-guard Victor Nunez drove into the teeth of the defense and shot a layup that missed.
Fortunately for Cebu City, Villafranca — a former Cesafi Mythical Five member during his days playing for the University of San Jose-Recoletos — was there to collect the offensive board and put it back in to shove the Sharks back in front, 69-68, 2.4 ticks left on the clock.
Off a timeout, Pampanga executed a play that got former Ginebra wingman Jimbo Aquino a clean look at a three-pointer that would have won the game for the Lanterns.
However, the shot hit the front of the rim, giving Cebu City the crucial win. /bjo
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