Ascof Lagundi rallied to hack-out a 94-90 overtime win over MP Pacman Gensan on Friday to gain the last finals berth in the Tournament of the Philippines’ fifth leg at the Emilio Aguinaldo College gym in Manila.
Veteran point guard Rob Labagala buried a jumper to break an 87-all tie with about a minute left in the extra five-minute period then made a big defensive play by stealing a pass by the Warriors' Louie Medalla to virtually seal a title showdown with Taguig Saturday.
The former UE Red Warriors Labagala finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals. He also set up the tying basket that forced an overtime when he issued an assist to Bam Gamalinda with five seconds remaining for a 79-all count.
"He has (Labagala) been steady for us. He's giving us a big lift on both ends of the floor," said coach Carlo Tan, whose squad battles Taguig for the leg crown at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
"We hope our tired legs get plenty of rest in time for our game (Saturday)," Tan added.
Gamalinda led the Cough Busters with 23 points while Raymund Aguilar added 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the victory.
Jonathan Parreno fired a game-high 28 points, behind five three-pointers, while John Gonzaga finished with 11 points but Gensan, which came back from an 11-point third quarter deficit, failed to protect a 67-60 lead with 6:44 left in regulation.
Earlier, Cobra Energy Drink spoiled early finalist Taguig's bid to sweep the elimination round as it pulled off an 83-74 victory.
The Ironmen, already out of finals contention, wasted a big lead but former La Salle Green Archer Peejay Barua helped spew venom on the Taguig cagers by hitting 13 points in the payoff period to escape with the win.
The Asia Brewery franchise thus prevented a winless campaign in the elims while also snapping a six-game losing streak dating back to the start of the Laguna leg held two weeks ago.
"We wanted to win this game to have our confidence back heading into our game for third place," said assistant coach Joel Palapal, who took over duties for coach Lawrence Chongson.
Chongson excused himself for the second straight day to concentrate on his other role as UE coach in the UAAP. The Red Warriors start their campaign against University of Santo Tomas on Saturday.
Barua erupted for 29 points, shooting 9-of-14 from the floor while adding five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench. He also got help from rugged center Pari Llagas who had 17 points and eight boards.
Cobra 83 – Barua 29, Llagas 17, Espiritu 12, Nabong 10, Lingganay 9, Tecson 4, Canizares 2, Acuna 0, Afable 0, Bagatsing 0.
Taguig 74 – Sta Cruz 18, Gatumbato 15, Vizcarra 10, dela Cuesta 9, de Castro 6, Guiyab 5, Tajonera 5, Marquez 4, Cacha 2, Delgado 0, Fernandez 0.
Quarter scores: 12-14; 32-26; 54-51; 83-74.
Ascof Lagundi 94 – Gamalinda 23, Aguilar 15, Labagala 15, Co 11, Canlas 9, Uyloan 8, Asoro 6, Mangahas 4, Taylor 3, Leynes 0.
MP GenSan 90 – Parreno 28, Gonzaga 11, Medalla 9, Raymundo 9, Sagad 8, Daja 7, Yambao 7, Nicdao 7, Coronado 4, Farochilen 0.
Quarter scores: 20-23; 39-40; 56-57; 79-79 (Reg); 94-90 (OT).
JVP, GMA News TV