DILIMAN College-JPA Freight Logistics and Colegio de San Lorenzo-V Hotel let it all out against their twice-to-beat opponents and lived to fight another day.
Diliman-JPA rallied from a 20-point deficit to stun defending champion FEU-NRMF-Gerry's Grill, 90-84, in overtime while CdSL-V Hotel proved steadier at crunchtime to edge Philippine Christian University, 82-79, in the 2017 MBL Open basketball tournament at the FEU-NRMF gym in Fairview.
The twin victories set up a pair of sudden death matches on Friday for the two finals berths in the eight-team tournament sponsored by Smart Sports, Star Bread, Dickies Underwear, Ironcon Builders and Gerry's Grill.
Joseph Brutas and import Adama Diakhite stood at the helm of the victory for the Rensy Bajar-coached Dragons, who are seeking to capture their second MBL title in three years and complete a grandslam of sorts by winning three preseason tournaments this month.
Brutas played one of his best games with 21 points, including five three-point shots while outhustling his more-experienced counterparts from FEU-NRMF.
Diakhite added 19 points, including several highlight dunks against FEU imports Kareem Abdul and Moustapha Arafat to the delight of a pre-dominantly FEU crowd.
MJ Enriquez and Kris Torrado also came up with double-digit scores for the Dragons, who are also being supported by Diliman College president Sen. Nikki Coseteng and businessman-sportsman Jerry Alday.
Last year's MBL MVP Clay Crellin finished with 22 points and ex-PBA star Jerwin Gaco added 14 points for the Tamaraws of manager Nino Reyes and coach Pido Jarencio.
Arafat and Abdul were limited to a combined score of 10 points by Diakhite's tight defense.
CdSL-V Hotel went to the tried and tested combination of import Soulemane Chabi Yo and Dominic Formento to frustrate PCU and extend their seminal match to a deciding game.
Chabi Yo, a high-leaping and hard-working student from Benin, exploded with 29 points while Formento added 21 for the Griffins of manager Jimi Lim and coach Boni Garcia.
Chabi Yo and Formento scored six points in the fourth quarter as the Griffins held off the Dolphins' determined rally.
Jun Gabrial also scored five of his 13 points in the payoff period.
Yves Sazon led PCU with 24 points, followed by Mike Ayonayon with 22 and Fidel Castri with 11.
Former MBL MVP Von Tambeling was held to only 10 markers while battling foul trouble.
Diliman-JPA (90) -- Brutas 21, Diakhite 19, Enriquez 15, Torrado 12, Cuerquez 7, Gerero 7, Bauzon 4, Onggulo 2, Ligon 2, Salazar 1, Chavenia 0, Tay 0, Diaz 0.
FEU-NRMF-Gerry's Grill (84) -- Crellin 22, Gaco 14, Manalo 10, Sta. Maria 9, Bautista 9, Arafat 6, Abdul 4, Tan 3, Gumabay 3, Diwa 2, A. Santos 2, Zamora 0.
Quarterscores: 12-18, 27-44, 52-60, 76-76, 90-84 (OT)
CdSL-V Hotel (82) -- Chabi Yo 29, Formento 21, Gabriel 13, Laman 6, Maravilla 5, Alano 4, Castanares 2, Borja 2, Rosas 0, Nuyda 0.
PCU (79) -- Sazon 24, Ayonayon 22, Castro 11, Tambeling 10, Saldua 5, Manalo 3, Apreku 2, Pallatao 2, Catipay 0, Vasquez 0, Mascallado 0, Bautista 0.
Quarterscores: 19-22, 42-36, 62-56, 82-79.