ALEX Cabagnot did it again.
The lefty playmaker reinforced his stature as one of the game's finest closers on Friday night, scoring on a last-gasp teardrop that lifted defending champion Petron to a 98-97 win over a resilient Air21 side in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With Petron trailing by one with 4.2 seconds left and import Eddie Basden ailing, Cabagnot took matters into his own hands as he drove into the lane and hit the floater with nine-tenths of a second left -- the latest addition to his growing collection of game-winners.
Cabagnot finished with just 13 points, but his last two points proved enough to propel Petron to its fifth win in nine games and a berth in the next round.
Jay Washington led the Boosters with 23 points, while Chris Lutz and Arwind Santos added 18 and 16, points, respectively.
The Boosters actually led by nine, 86-77, with seven minutes and 14 seconds left in the fourth, before the Express tied the game at 92, after a triple from Zachary Graham with 3:38 to go.
Both squads traded baskets from there until Cabagnot’s heroics sealed the outcome.
“Swerte lang,” Boosters coach Ato Agustin said. “Pero hindi pwede mangyari yung ganung sitwasyon, out na sila tapos kami lumalaban pa para sa semifinals.
“We have to adjust sa mali namin na hindi kami makalayo sa kalaban,” he added.
One reason could be their lack willingness to crash the boards as the Express outrebounded the Boosters, 53 to 38.
Basden, suffering from a left knee injury, came up with his worst outing as a Booster with seven points in 31 minutes. He’s expected to be replaced soon.
Graham again carried the Express on his shoulders, tallying 40 points, 10 boards, and seven assists.
The high-scoring import almost led his team to a win after he gave the Express a 97-96 lead with his two charities, time down to 4.2 seconds.
The Express bowed out of contention with a 2-7 win-loss mark.
PETRON 98 - Washington 23, Lutz 18, Santos 16, Cabagnot 13, Basden 7, Lanete 7, Baclao 6, Yeo 4, Miranda 2, Pena 2, Hontiveros 0.
AIR21 97 - Graham 40, Espiritu 16, Faundo 10, Ritualo 10, Sison 6, Escobal 5, Sena 2, Isip 2, Hubalde 2, Omolon 2, Arboleda 2, Menor 0.
Quarters: 20-22, 52-50, 79-75, 98-97