LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The DepEd Mentors capped their thrilling, tight matches-filled journey with a brilliant inbounds play in their final game to bring down the Executive Mixers in the battle for the bronze and completed their own back-to-back third place finish in the Interoffice Bracket of the fifth season of the Laity Cup.
Julius Dig-o put things in motion for the Mentors, scoring 10 of his 16 points right in the first to allow the Mentors in sight of the Mixers, 15-17, after see-saw first quarter affair.
Mckleen Aroco and Alex Batara took over the second, canning a triple each in dropping 10 and seven, respectively, as the nip-and-tuck contest continued in the second with the Mixers ahead with the slightest margin, 39-38, at halftime.
Collin Lumbican lead the Mixers first half offensives with 15.
Aroco and Batara continued their hot shooting, adding two more treys each and scored nine and eight, respectively, to propel the Mentors to go up by four, 57-53, at the end of the third.
The Mentors then pushed ahead in the fourth. Melvin Alfredo joined the fray with two baskets and a triple each again from the Batara-Aroco duo got them ready to wrap the game, going ahead by eight, 73-65, with about two minutes left in the game.
Then the Mixers made a final stand and almost reversed the outcome. Two baskets by Lumbican and a twinner by Ken Carino got the Mixers to within two, 73-71, with 38 seconds left.
A Mentors turnover resulted to Roy Kepes going to the line for two shots. Kepes made a split but a recovery of the loose ball give the Mixers back possession and a chance to get the win, time down to under 10 seconds.
The Mentors, however, stole off the inbounds pass to recover possession and force the Mixers to go on a fouling spree to send the Mentors to the line.
The Mixers were able to give two quick fouls as they are still not in penalty situation but the third that would have send the Mentors to the stripe never came when a defensive lapse allowed the Mentors to pass the ball around until the final buzzer sounded.
It was some sort of a redeeming moment for the Mentors, having been a previous victim of the stunt what they just pulled-off and getting the bad end of the close-fought matches they were involved in.
They absorbed a 70-72 loss to the BeGH Warriors in the eliminations, and were at the verge of entering the finals, leading, 82-81, in the dying seconds of the do-or-die semifinals against the Justice, only to see it slip away as the Justice sneaked an inbounds steal and a lay-up to advance instead.
DepEd Mentors 73: Mckleen Aroco 26, Alex Batara 21, Julius Dig-o 16, Melvin Alfredo 8, Julius Baliqued 2.
Executive Mixers 72: Collin Lumbican 22, Johnny Mendoza 19, Roy Kepes 14, Ken Carino 10, Arman Bolislis 5, Brian Camhit 2.
3Pt shots made: Batara 5, Aroco 4, Mendoza 3, Bolislis 1.