Home-court edge possible for Risers; Pasay scores
Once a team in turmoil, 1Bataan has emerged from its midseason issues stronger and even more tenacious.
The Risers, who lost key players following the team’s financial troubles a few months ago, have not only found a new backer, but are slowly but surely making a push to grab home court advantage in the North division of the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season.
Ryan Batino, one of the few players who stayed with Bataan when times got rough early in the season, delivered 18 points and 13 rebounds as the Camaya Coast-backed Risers overcame the Bicol Volcanoes, 76-72, on Wednesday night at Bataan People’s Center in Balanga.
“We had some difficulties this season, but as a team, I think those problems made us stronger,” said Batino, after the Risers improved to 17-9 for fifth spot, behind Bulacan Kuyas (17-8).
Chito Jaime, the hero in last week’s stunning upset of Manila, and two players who also stayed on even when the team struggled financially, Toto Villarias and James Castro, all finished with 10 points each.
“The players are showing a lot of character,” said Bataan coach Jonas Villanueva, who also took the helm in place of Jong Uichico.
The Volcanoes threatened at 72-74 with 26 seconds left, but the Risers held their ground on split charities by both Achie Ingo and Batino.
Meanwhile, Pasay also revved up its playoff push with a 61-50 triumph over Bacolod Master’s Sardines, while Nueva Ecija sustained its revival with a 92-74 crushing of Quezon City.
JP Belencion finished with 15 points on 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc as the Voyagers snapped their two-game slide to improve to 14-11, half-a-game behind Pasig Sta. Lucia and Caloocan, which currently share seventh spot in the North.
The loss ended the Capitals’ playoff hopes, despite the 23-point, nine-rebound effort of Mon Mabayo.
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