Belencion leads fourth-quarter surge as Tanduay edges AMA to keep playoff hopes alive
Jaypee Belencion and the Rhum Masters still have to wait for the final playdate to determine their fate. Dante Peralta

JAYPEE Belencion scored 14 of his 17 points in the final quarter as Tanduay Light stayed in the race to the quarterfinals with a 74-66 win over AMA University on Monday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at The Arena in San Juan.

The Rhum Masters finished the eliminations in sixth place with a 5-6 win-loss record, keeping alive their hopes alive for the final spot in the playoffs. They hope for a Breadstory-Lyceum loss against Racal Motors on the final day of the eliminations on January 26.

Breadstory failed to secure a quarterfinal berth on Monday with a loss to Cebuana Lhuillier, slipping to seventh with a 4-6 win-loss slate.

Top two teams Hapee and Cagayan Valley made it to the semifinals outright, while the next four battle it out in the quarterfinals.

“Kailangang Racal ang i-motivate namin,” Chongson said in jest as they will have to wait for another week to determine their fortunes.

“We win today first, take care of our end of the business. At least, nanalo. Buhay pa kami ng isang linggo,” he added.

Belencion’s heroics averted a Tanduay Light collapse as it lost a 15-point second quarter advantage when AMA turned the game around and took a 56-53 lead.

A former Globalport and Meralco player, Belencion buried a triple to break a 57-57 tie at the 5:16-mark before Aljon Mariano ended a 10-0 run with another triple for a 63-57 lead.

Another triple by Belencion to finish a short 5-0 blast sealed the win for the Rhum Masters, moving ahead 70-61 lead with 2:59 left in the fourth.

“Sinwerte kami. Pa-collapse na pero sinwerte. Mahirap makakuha ng consistency sa line-up na meron ako ngayon. Nakikita ko naman ’yung effort pero bad habits die hard,” said Chongson.

AMA ended its maiden campaign in the PBA D-League with a 3-8 slate.

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The scores:

Tanduay Light (74)—Belencion 17, Foronda 8, Mariano 8, Sumang 7, Tagarda 7, Mandani 6, Ilagan 6, Escueta 4, Santos 4, Rono 4, De Vera 2, Jumao-as 1.

AMA (66)—Eriobu 17, Sabangan 13, King 10, Balucanag 8, Taganas 8, Sison 7, Martinez 3, Diswe 0, Rosales 0, Arellano 0.

Quarterscores: 17-11, 37-28, 48-49, 74-66.

Team standings: Hapee 10-0, Cagayan Valley 9-0, Café France 9-2, Jumbo Plastic 6-4, Cebuana Lhuillier 6-4, Tanduay Light 5-6, Breadstory 4-6, Racal Motors 3-7, MJM M-Builders 3-7, AMA 3-8, Wangs 2-8, MP Hotel 1-9.

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