Reigning national champions Misamis Oriental Meteors scored an exciting, 84-82 win over the Trace-Laguna Stallions to barge into the finals in the Liga Pilipinas Conference 3 preseason, yesterday at the Cebu Coliseum.
The Meteors blew an early 15-point lead but leaned on the steady hands of MisOr returnee Patrick Cabahug down the stretch to hack out the close win, which ensured them of a spot in the championship game on Thursday with their unblemished 2-0 record in the brief four-team tournament.
The Meteors had five players scoring in double-figures with Lyndon Gudez leading the way with 13 markers. Moreño, Cabahug and Melvin Mamaclay each had 11 points. Gaco led Laguna with 25 while Sanz added 20 markers.
Misamis started strong and led, 26-13 after the opening canto and stretched it further to 15, 32-17 before a strong second period push by the Stallions anchored on the 10 points of bullstrong forward Jerwin Gaco, tied the match at 36-all at halftime.
The Stallions of head coach Nomar Isla though, came out sluggish after the halftime break and paid dearly for it as the Meteors uncorked a sizzling 11-0 run led by wily guard Mark Moreño, to lead 47-36. They eventually held a seven-point bulge, 62-55, heading into the final canto.
Laguna eventually turned the tables on their opponents as they grabbed their first taste of the lead at 64-63 after a basket by Ron Capati with 8:33 remaining and continued to be in the driver’s seat at 75-72.
The Meteors play the Niños today in a preview of the finals.
5 pm – Trace-Laguna vs Mandaue Landmasters
7 pm – M. Lhuillier-Cebu vs Misamis Oriental