CJ Catapusan shocked virtually everyone at the Bacoor City Strike Gymnasium -- even commissioner Kenneth Duremdes himself -- as he lifted eighth-seeded Iloilo past top-seeded Bacoor City, 89-86, in Game 1 of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League South Division first-round playoff series on Saturday night. Catapusan, a member of 2022 UAAP champion University of the Philippines Maroons, drained a buzzer-beating triple that silenced the Strikers' home crowd, completing the United Royals' comeback from 23 points down at the start of the best-of-three series. Bacoor waxed hot in the first half, dropping 31 points on Iloilo in the first quarter before opening a 20-point halftime lead that would become 23 after Jhan Nermal hit a three to start the third period. However, Iloilo closed the third with a 32-6 run to open a 69-66 advantage entering the fourth. The game became tight in the fourth quarter, but the Strikers eventually regained the lead, 85-84, with 2:06 to play. Shaq Imperial put the United Royals back up, 86-85, after a pull-up jumper, 1:15 remaning. Chito Jaime had a chance to put Bacoor City up anew, but he could only make a split from the line for 86-all with seven seconds left. Aware that the home team still had a foul to give, Catapusan caught them off guard and quickly unleashed a two-dribble pull-up that hit the glass first before going in. Renzo Navarro led Iloilo with 16 points, three rebounds, 14 assists, and one assist; Josh Flores added 14 points and 10 rebounds; and Omar Larupay chipped in 10 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists. Catapusan scored 9 points. Nermal and James Kwekuteye each scored 23 points for Bacoor City, which will try to avert an early exit Saturday at the Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City. Zamboanga, gained a headstart in its playoff series against Quezon with a 77-68 win in the first game. Jaycee Marcelino came close to a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists along with one steal and one block to lead Zamboanga, which can close out its best-of-three affair at home. Topeng Lagrama fired 16 points with five rebounds, three assists, and one steal to lead Quezon.
Source: Philippines News Agency