Prince Eze knocked down the game-winning basket with 0.5 seconds left to lift the Perpetual Help Altas over the San Sebastian Stags, 78-76, on Thursday at the Perpetual Help gym in Las Piñas.
The Altas were down by 21 points in the second quarter, but willed themselves back into the ball game. Eze's tip-in in the closing moments completed their come-from-behind win.
"I would really go to Prince on that last shot. It was a tip-in. He made it," head coach Frankie Lim said. "Not the prettiest shot but he made it."
With 3.5 seconds remaining and the game tied at 76 apiece, Edgar Charcos passed the ball to a cutting AJ Coronel. The forward was momentarily left wide open but he opted to throw the ball to the outstretched arms of Eze in the paint. The big man was able to get a hand on the ball and tip it in with less than a second left on the clock.
"I designed [it] that way," explained Lim on the Altas' final possession. "What I was expecting was that they would deny Charcos. I told AJ, 'You have to be available for that pass. If you have that shot take it, if not, put it up for Eze.'"
"I don't want to lose. Whatever it takes," expressed Eze on his game-winning play. "Because I know if tap the ball, I'm still gonna catch it back."
The Altas were down 46-27 at halftime in their own backyard. Lim observed that they played tentative and committed a lot of mistakes in the first two quarters.
"At halftime I got mad actually. I told them guys it's not about the Xs and Os, it's about your desire to win and to make things straight," said Lim.
Banking on Lim's words, the Altas turned things around in the third quarter where they outscored the Stags, 24-11. They finally got a taste of the lead with seven minutes left in the final frame courtesy of a lay-up by Charcos. The two teams were neck-and-neck in the closing minutes.
"We played zone the whole of the second half and that limited their putbacks, second chance points," shared Lim. "I think we controlled the paint in the second half. They made their some of their shots outside, but that's okay, that's what you give when you play zone."
San Sebastian's Arjan Dela Cruz was able to tie the game, 76-all, with a gutsy 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left as the Stags were hoping to extend the game into overtime. But Eze and the Altas had other plans and they executed their final play brilliantly.
Eze finished the game with 22 points, 18 rebounds, and six blocks, while Charcos added 18 points and five boards for the 3-2 Altas.
"Beggars can't be choosers. We were down by  at the half, you win by two points, it's a great win for us," said Lim.
Allyn Bulanadi put up 21 points and 12 rebounds but his efforts fell in vain as the Stags drop to 3-5 in the standings.
PERPETUAL 78 - Eze 22, Charcos 18, Peralta 11, Coronel 9, Mangalino 5, Aurin 4, Razon 3, Gallardo 2, Cuevas 2, Sese 2, Tamayo 0, Pasia 0
SAN SEBASTIAN 76 - Bulanadi 21, Capobres 19, Dela Cruz 11, Calma 8, Are 6, Calisaan 5, Desoyo 2, Isidro 2, Villapando 2, Valdez 0, Sumoda 0
QUARTER SCORES: 12-20, 27-46, 51-57, 78-76