At the Marikina Sports Center on Tuesday, Marikina beat Quezon Province in a close game that ended with a score of 73-70, securing their place in the MPBL fifth season playoffs.
Marikina was enjoying a comfortable 22-point lead in the third quarter, 59-37. However, Quezon clawed their way back up. By the fourth, the Shoemasters and the Huskers met a deadlock at 70.
It was the hometown heroes, RV Berjay and Felipe Chavez, who came through in the clutch to secure Marikina’s playoff berth with a 16-12 record, earning them the eighth and final playoff slot in the competitive North Division.
Former Batang Gilas standout from the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Berjay, made a crucial layup with just 25 seconds left in the game, while Chavez sank two free throws with a mere six seconds on the final clock, putting the final nail in the coffin of the Huskers. With this loss, Quezon just lost their home-court advantage as the playoffs were set to kick off on Friday, October 6.
RV Berjay, emerged as the star of the game for Marikina, contributing 14 points, five rebounds, and three assists, earning him the well-deserved title of the game’s best player. Notable performances also came from Joe Gomez De Liano with 10 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, and Felipe Chavez, who contributed 10 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.
The game had seen the Huskers trailing significantly, with a 34-59 deficit late in the third quarter. However, a spirited comeback effort brought them back into contention, narrowing the gap to 60-66 with a 10-point surge fueled by an Alfrancis Tamsi three-pointer. They continued to rally, amassing eight more points, including another crucial triple by Tamsi, tying the game at 70-70 with just 29 seconds remaining.
With this loss, Quezon Province slipped to a 19-9 record and fifth place in the standings, trailing behind the Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines, who finished with an impressive 20-8 record in the South Division.
The Huskers were faced with the prospect of traveling to Zamboanga City for Game 2 of their best-of-three quarter final series against the Zamboanguenos, instead of hosting the game on their home court on October 14.
Despite their valiant efforts, the Huskers were unable to capitalize on their late-game push, with several missed opportunities, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer attempt by Mon Abundo that could have forced overtime.
Quezon’s Topeng Lagrama, a beloved figure in Lucena City, delivered an impressive performance with 13 points, four steals, four assists, and three rebounds, while Alfrancis Tamsi made valuable contributions with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.