ALCANTARA — Veteran wingman Reed Juntilla and versatile forward Dawn Ochea hit the big shots for the ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu Heroes down the stretch as they eliminated the Tubigon Bohol Mariners, 73-69, in the stepladder playoffs of the Chooks-to-Go VisMin Super Cup on Saturday afternoon at the Alcantara Civic Center in Alcantara, Cebu.
ARQ now advances to the next stage of the stepladder phase and will take on the winner of the knockout game between Dumaguete and Tabogon on Sunday. The winner of that match will move on to the semifinals against the KCS Computer Specialist-Mandaue on Tuesday where the latter owns a twice-to-beat advantage.
ARQ was up by as much as 17 points but Bohol kept chipping away and was able to pull to within four, 61-65, after a short hook shot by Pari Llagas, 2:20 remaining in the match. However, Ochea grabbed a miss by Juntilla, drew a foul and made two free-throws to give ARQ some breathing room.
Juntilla then made baskets on consecutive possessions to put ARQ up by 10, 71-61, with 1:01 left on the clock. Bohol did not go away easily as Jerry Musngi answered with a couple of buckets to trim the deficit down to six, 65-71. However, Ochea sealed the victory for ARQ as he scored on an undergoal stab off a nice bounce pass from Hafer Mondragon.
Ochea, the former Adamson Falcon, led ARQ with 21 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block while Juntilla chipped in 16 markers, 10 boards, two assists and a steal.
Afterwards, ARQ assistant coach Jerry Abuyabor praised Ochea for his heads up plays down the stretch.
“Dawn (Ochea) played big,” said Abuyabor. “He stepped up again when we needed him most.”
Rendell Senining and Jojo Tangkay added 10 points apiece with the former adding six rebounds, two assists and two steals and the former tallying five boards and a block.
Much as he has all season, Pari Llagas played huge for the Mariners, piling up 22 points, 12 rebounds, an assist, a steal and three blocks. However, Joseph Marquez—the league’s leading scorer—was quite and had just 12 points and committed six turnovers.
ARQ Lapu-Lapu (73)—Ochea 21, Juntilla 16, Senining 10, Tangkay 10, Berame 6, M. Arong 2, Abad 2, Mondragon 2, Regero 2, Solis 0, Minguito 0, Galvez 0
Bohol (69)—Llagas 22, Marquez 12, Casera 10, Leonida 9, Musngi 8, Ibarra 6, Tilos 2, Tangunan 0, Dadjilul 0
QUARTERSCORES: 20-10, 39-30, 57-44, 73-69