by Jerome Lagunzad
Games Tomorrow (Ynares Sports Arena)
1 p.m. — AMA vs Gamboa Coffee Mix
3 p.m. — Batangas vs Wang’s Basketball
5 p.m. — Akari-Adamson vs JRU
Wingman MJ Ayaay drained a short stab at the buzzer as Zark’s Burgers survived also-ran Perpetual Help, 108-106, in overtime yesterday to gain an added momentum going to the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup playoffs at the Pasig City Sports Center.
Ralph Tansingco had a team-high 19 points, spiked by four triples, while Cameroon center Mike Nzeusseu contributed 16 points and 16 rebounds, but it was Ayaay who delivered the biggest bucket that enabled the Jawbreakers to escape past the Altas.
It was the third straight victory and seventh overall in 11 matches for Zark’s Burgers, which moved up to the fifth spot but will need to overhaul a twice-to-win handicap against its higher-seeded foe in the quarterfinals.
“Sa amin kasi any opportunity to get better, we’re gonna take it,” said Jawbreakers coach Topex Robinson in his usual positive tone. “It’s gonna prepare us for the bigger picture. Kahit nasa fifth or sixth (spot) kami, we’re gonna be okay.”
Nigerian center Prince Eze dominated anew with game-highs of 30 points and 22 rebounds on top of three blocks while Rey Peralta had 26 points and Kim Aurin added 23 for Perpetual Help, which closed out its maiden campaign with a 3-8 mark.
The Altas, however, had all the reasons to keep their heads up despite another painful loss as they found a way to overcome the absence of top guard Edgar Charcos to a right ankle injury in the second period and gave the Jawbreakers all they could handle.
Peralta was at his best in the fourth period where he fired in 10 big points, including a pair of made freebies that tied the knot at 91-points apiece with 49.2 seconds to play.
A clutch runner by Reymar Caduyac in the ensuing play put Zark’s Burgers back on top, only to see Perpetual Help fire back behind Eze who turned a short trey by Peralta into an easy putback at the buzzer, paving the way for an extra five-minute session.
After Zark’s Burgers led by as many as seven points—106-99—capped by a CJ Perez putback, Perpetual help still refused to roll down and die as it scored seven unanswered points, capped by a completed three-point play by AJ Coronel off a Tansingco foul, time down to just 19.1 seconds.
The Altas prevented Perez from making an easy access in the lane but the Jawbreakers star made a drop pass to Caduyac who then whipped the leather to a wide open Ayaay for the game-winner as time ran out.
“The more minutes we play, it’s going to make us better. The extra five minutes is really good for us,” added Robinson, who got 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists from Ayaay off the bench.