by Ernest Hernandez
Valenzuela defied the odds on Saturday night and shocked twice-to-beat Caloocan, 74-68, in the Northern Division Semifinals of the Metro League Reinforced Conference at the Caloocan Sports Complex.
The Workhorse zoomed in the third quarter, outscoring the Supremos, 23-16, and eventually opening a 12-point cushion, 60-48, at the start of the fourth quarter.
Caloocan still mounted a comeback, cutting the lead down to three, 71-68, with 1:27 left, but a Hamadou Laminou follow-up and a Marlon Kalaw block on McArthur Enriquez helped preserve the win for Valenzuela.
Joco Tayongtong and Erwin Sta. Maria each scored 16 points off the bench for the Workhorse, who forced another showdown with the Supremos for the right to face the Quezon City Junior Capitals in the North Finals.
Johnnel Bauzon paced Caloocan with 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block.
Valenzuela 74-Tayongtong 16, Sta. Maria 16, Ruaya 13, Laminou 7, Natividad 7, Esplana 7, Monteclaro 5, Diego 2, Dela Cruz 1, Pascua 0, Kalaw 0, Rivera 0
Caloocan 68-Bauzon 17, Darang 14, De Mesa 11, Niang 9, De Leon 7, Sombero 6, Brutas 4, Enriquez 0, Tay 0, Ngo 0, Flores 0
Quarterscores: 14-12, 34-32, 57-48, 74-68