Bataan, Manila seal semis clash with sweeps
Top seed Bataan and Manila forged a blockbuster semifinal duel after sweeping different first round foes in the North division playoffs of the MPBL Datu Cup on Wednesday night at San Andres Sports Complex in Manila.
The Risers opened the game with a 20-6 blitz before coasting to an 83-71 triumph over No. 8 Caloocan to blank the Supremos in their best-of-three quarterfinal series.
Later, the fourth-seeded Stars eliminated the Bulacan Kuyas with an emphatic 92-83 victory behind strong perfor mances from Chris Bitoon and Aris Dionisio also for a 2-0 win.
Game 1 of the best-of-three series is tentatively set on Monday at Bataan People’s Center in Balanga. The other North division semifinal pits Quezon City and San Juan.
“The real playoffs start for us,” said Bataan coach Jojo Lastimosa. “Manila is tough, they’re complete and they’re just like us with their mix of veterans and young players. It’s going to be a good series.”
The one and only time the two teams faced off was way back in June with the Stars prevailing 89-82 at home.
“We’re different teams now so I welcome the challenge and see what my guys are made of,” said Lastimosa, who is also relishing his coaching duel with with fellow PBA all-time great Philip Cezar.
Far Eastern U star Richard Escoto led a balanced charge from the Risers, finishing with 17 points and nine assists, while Gab Dagangon continued his solid play with 15 points and five boards.
The Risers hardly gave the Supremos a chance, controlling the game with a tough defensive stand that saw Caloocan commit seven more turnovers with 16.
Bitoon tossed 20 points and dished out six assists for Manila.