Stars of Manila shine their way to 2nd place
Spitfire guard Chris Bitoon joined forces with Kyles Lao in an explosive finish as Manila repulsed Parañaque, 98-88, on Wednesday night to grab second place in the MPBL Datu Cup at Valenzuela Astrodome.
Bitoon poured nine of his 22 points in the second half, while Lao came off the bench to finish with 14 points as the Stars rallied in the fourth period to hike their record to 11-2 in the North division.
Later, Bacoor ruined former player Mikee Reyes’ debut with Valenzuela as the Strikers overcame the Classic, 88-81.
Leo de Vera delivered a breakout performance with 11 points and 17 rebounds, while Rama Morales stepped up for the struggling Gab Banal, tallying a career-best 23 points for the Strikers, who improved to 8-5 for solo third in the South division.
Playing his first game since he was traded by Bacoor for Rocky Acidre, Reyes took only one shot and ended up scoreless, but finished with 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals. The former University of the Philippines guard also missed two potential game tying free throws down the stretch.
Morales got off to a blistering start, unloading 16 points in the opening half, before fouling out midway in the fourth quarter.
De Vera nailed a jumper with 1:13 remaining for a four-point cushion for the Strikers, who also drew a solid performance from Samboy de Leon.
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