By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The mighty Jaro Titans extended their undefeated winning streak to four after edging the Molo Spartans, 91-85, while the City Proper Stalwarts pulled off a gutsy comeback to stun the Mandurriao Warriors in overtime, 100-97, in the ongoing JB Amateur Basketball League (JB ABL) Battle of the 7 Districts last October 8, 2023, held at the Green Meadows 2 basketball gym in Pavia, Iloilo.
After three convincing wins against City Proper, Arevalo, and Mandurriao, Jaro joined the Lapuz Batang Pier as the only squads that are yet to taste their first defeat in the preliminary round.
It wasn’t a walk in the park just like their previous games as the Titans had to change gears and step on the gas pedal midway through the second half to fend off the tough challenge from Molo.
The Spartans grabbed a slim lead in the first half after their pressure defense and efficient shot selection helped them answer every Jaro basket but once the Titans gave them a dose of their own medicine defensively, the complexion of the game started to change.
Jaro then ballooned their lead to double-digits at the start of the third frame but a quick turnaround of events happened when Molo came back and kept themselves within striking distance.
Molo played catchup the whole final frame and failed to retake the lead, thanks to crucial baskets from Kevin Barranco, Clint Mesias, JN Gula, and Joshua Maquiling.
It was Gula who kicked off Jaro’s resurgence in the last minutes of the third when he knocked down timely baskets to extinguish the fiery run of the Spartans.
With the offensive showcase Gula displayed, he was awarded as the game’s ODM Best Player after dropping 19 markers.
Meanwhile, City Proper had to take an early punching and weathered the storm in the final quarter to complete an impressive come-from-behind win against Mandurriao.
Trailing during the majority of the second half after the Warriors got hot from the three-point line, the Stalwarts erased Mandurriao’s four-point lead in the last 50 seconds of the game after tallying two steals that all led to breakaway layups.
An electric start then fueled City Proper’s comeback effort as they mounted an 8-0 run while the Warriors ran out of gas and failed to cash in a single bucket in the first two minutes of the extra period.
Yohan Posa’s solid outing helped him bag the ODM Best Player of the Game after top-scoring for City Proper with 21 markers.