by Ernest Hernandez
Bulacan blew a double-digit lead but still mustered enough to beat Novo Ecijano, 93-87, in the quarterfinals of the CBA Pilipinas Founders Cup at the Aero Center on Saturday.
Looking to pummel their Central Luzon rivals, the Heroes raced to a 22-3 lead over the Defenders late in the first quarter.
However, Novo Ecijano slowly recovered and even took a 64-59 advantage late in the third quarter.
Bulacan eventually restored order and pulled away late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Benner Salamat (27 points and 11 rebounds), Paul Dela Cruz (19 points and 12 assists), and JM Magbanua (14 rebounds and 12 points) each tallied double-doubles for Bulacan, which won despite playing with only six men.
Dela Cruz actually flirted with a triple-double as he too grabbed nine rebounds with two steals.
Jayve Ferreria made 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals for Novo Ecijano.
Bulacan 93-Salamat 27, Dela Cruz 19, Pama 17, Magbanua 12, Mohammad 2, Necio 0
Novo Ecijano 87-Ferreria 16, Baldeh 13, Tolentino 10, Reyes 9, Pedrosa 8, Poblete 6, Sembrano 5, Jejilos 4, De Guzman 4, Corpuz 4, Cabigao 3, Lucas 3, Santos 2
Quarterscores: 24-7, 44-36, 67-66, 93-87