Philippine Merchant Marine School overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat La Consolacion College-Manila, 63-61, and force the 4th Interscholastic Athletic Association basketball finals series to a winner-take-all match on Thursday at the Makati Coliseum.
Trailing 9-25 at the end of the first quarter, Dhon Reverente, Elvin Chan, Jess Quilatan, Sany Trinidad, Elmar Moradas and James Gonato made key shots in the second half to help the Mariners engineer a stirring comeback.
The burly Chan gave PMMS a 61-60 lead when he sank a corner three with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter even as the Blue Royals struggled hitting their freethrows down the stretch to level the series at 1-all.
The final match is set on Tuesday at the same venue.
Reverente led the Mariners of coach Aldrin Morante with 12 points, Chan, Moradas and Quilatan had nine markers each while Gonato chipped in six points.
It was a stunning loss for LCCM, which was seeking to nail its first-ever title after three tries. The Blue Royals even led 36-26 at halftime and 47-37 with 3:42 left in the third when the Mariners orchestrated a rally.
A three-point play by Tanzanian center Jimmy Brown with 2:34 to go in the payoff period gave LCCM its final lead, 60-58, before Chan hit the go-ahead triple.
The Blue Royals had a chance to tie the game at 63-all when Ryan Sagrada drew a foul after missing a running shot with 2.3 ticks left.
But to the horror of the La Consolacion side, Sagrada failed to make both free throws. Brown grabbed the offensive rebound but a Mariner deflected the ball out of bounds as time expired.
Sagrada led LCCM with 15 points while Game One hero Josue Quintal added 10 points but sat on the bench during the dying seconds due to a cut above his forehead. Brown and Marlowe Isip likewise scored 10 markers.