Crucial Batangas, Muntinlupa tiffs
Batangas City and Muntinlupa—two teams that figured in the inaugural finals series last year—battle separate foes in a bid to keep their title hopes alive in the MPBL Datu Cup on Monday night at Batangas City Coliseum.
Foiled in Game 2 by the gritty Imus Bandera, 69-75 last Thursday, the Athletics, who ruled the Rajah Cup last April, hope that returning to the comforts of home will give them the fuel they need to reach the next round in the South division.
The Cagers also find themselves in an unlikely position as they face an inspired Zamboanga team in another do-or-die game at 7 p.m. The winners of the two quarterfinal series will meet in the South division Final Four that begins on Wednesday in Davao City.
Muntinlupa bungled the opportunity to finish off Zamboanga at home last Thursday with the Rapidos tying the series with a gutsy 84-73 victory.
Stopping Reed Juntilla and Harold Arboleda will be key for the Cagers, whose shooting woes resurfaced in Game 2. Getting more production from Chito Jaime and Allan Mangahas will also be crucial for Muntinlupa, which only had Don Reverente finishing in twin digits in the Thursday loss.
Batangas interim coach Woody Co will be pinning his hopes on veterans Jeff Viernes, Jhaymo Eguilos and Val Acuña in the 9 p.m. clash with the Banderas.
The Banderas’ confidence is soaring after the Game 2 victory and Imus guard Ian Melencio would love nothing more than completing their stunning turnaround with a win on Batangas’ home floor.
“It would be nice to silence their crowd,” said Melencio, who had nine points in the Game 2 win.
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