Alex Cabagnot added another number to his greatest hits collection.
The Petron guard rekindled his role as the team’s clutch player, scoring on a floater with nine-tenths of a second left to lift Petron Blaze to a tense 98-97 win over a game Air 21 side Friday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Zach Graham, who had another monster night with 40 points, made two free throws to give the Express a 97-76 lead before the Boosters sued for time to set up Cabagnot’s heroics.
But despite Cabagnot’s big shot and Petron’s escape win, head coach Ato Agustin wasn’t satisfied.
“Hindi dapat ganun ang nangyari, especially out na yung kalaban namin tapos kami naman, battling for survival sa semis,” said Agustin. “Kailangan naming panoorin ulit itong laro namin and see what went wrong.”
One of the obvious reasons why the Boosters nearly lost the game was the team’s poor rebounding.
“May tendency kasi yung mga players na kapag tumira, tatakbo na agad sa kabila,” said Agustin. “We need to secure the rebounds first.”
The defending champion Boosters were beaten off the boards by the Express, 53-38, as no Petron player was able to grab more than seven rebounds, with Arwind Santos leading Petron in the category.
With the win, Petron was able to enter the semifinal round as it finished its elimination campaign with a 5-4 win loss record.
Petron (98) – Washington 23, Lutz 18, Santos 16, Cabagnot 13, Basden 7, Lanete 7, Baclao 6, Yeo 4, Miranda 2, Pena 2, Hontiveros 0.
Air 21 (97) – Graham 40, Espiritu 16, Faundo 10, Ritualo 10, Sison 6, Escobal 5, Sena 2, Isip 2, Hubalde 2, Omolon 2, Arboleda 2, Menor 0.
Quarters: 20-22, 52-50, 79-75, 98-97
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