Athletics boost home-court edge hopes; Warriors gun for playoff berth
Batangas City Athletics coach Woody Co doesn’t mind having a surplus of guards at his disposal with the race for home-court advantage in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan season South division playoffs going down the wire.
The Athletics welcomed Tey Teodoro back to the roster, but it was another heady playmaker in Ryusei Koga who sparkled as Batangas dumped Valenzuela City, 77-66, on Saturday night to vault into fourth spot in its division.
Already missing starter Jeff Viernes due to his coaching commitment in Malaysia, Batangas was also without Rey Suerte and Jaydee Tungcab because of Gilas Pilipinas duties.
Alternating point guard duties with Dan Sara, who also had to leave the game due to an ankle injury in the second half, the 5-foot-9 Koga stepped up in their absence with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Athletics, who improved to 18-11.
“We were without key players but we still got the win,” Co said. “We are creating the culture of next man up, whoever is playing to always go hard. Hopefully, we can carry this to the playoffs.”
As it stands, Batangas is tied with Zamboanga in the race for home-court advantage in the South division.
But a loss by Zamboanga against Manila on Monday will mean that the Athletics will clinch home-court advantage against the No. 5 seed in the playoffs regardless of the result of Batangas’ game against Cebu on Wednesday.
Batangas can still clinch the No. 4 seed with a win over Cebu, even with Zamboanga prevailing over Manila. The Athletics hold the winner-over-the-other tiebreak edge over Zamboanga.
San Juan earlier clinched home-court advantage for the entire playoffs after a trouble-free 114-68 triumph over Mindoro. The Knights take on the No. 8 Pasay Voyagers in a best-of-three series in the first round, while second seed Manila will play No. 7 Pasig. The other matchups feature No. 4 Pampanga against No. 5 Bataan and No. 3 Makati battling No. 6 Bulacan.
Meanwhile, General Santos City can complete the playoff cast in the South division with a victory over Saranggani on Monday.
The Warriors currently hold the seventh-best record in the South with a 16-13 record, but they will still get eliminated if they lose their last two games and Cebu (15-14) wins over Batangas. INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.