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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Basilan quintet survives Bicol; Iloilo 5 prevails

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Jumbo Plastics Basilan survived the Bicol Volcanoes’ second-quarter explosion and tallied a 70-65 victory to cap the 5-game inaugurals of the Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Invitational powered by TM on Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Michael Juico provided the firepower while Jay Collado delivered at clutch time to lift Basilan to the top with early winners Iloilo United Royals, San Juan Knights, All-Star Bacolod Ballers and Imus Bandera Luxxe Slim.

Iloilo subdued Negros Muscovados, 83-77, San Juan routed Valebzuela Carga Backload Solutions, 97-64, Bacolod edged Bacoor Strikers, 73-71, while Imus trounced the Bulacan Kuyas, 75-65.

It was the Basilan-Bicol encounter, however, which drew attention as both teams were listed among the favorites to rule the tournament signaling the return of fans to the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League after a 2-year absence due to COVID-19.

Juico poured 24 points, 9 in the last 7 minutes, while Collado added 15 as Basilan shook off the hot-shooting of Dennis Santos and the barreling drives of Mark Tallo to thwart Bicol.

Santos drilled in 2 triples as Bicol, which zoomed ahead at 26-11, regained the lead at 57-53 early in the fourth quarter.

Juico and Collado conspired to push Basilan ahead, 61-57, before Tallo clustered 6 points and put Bicol ahead.

The Volcanoes led for the last time at 65-64 on 2 free throws by Ralph Tansingco but went silent in the last 1 minute and 37 seconds while allowing Basilan to close with 6 more points.

“It was a hard-fought game from start to finish,” said Basilan coach Jerson Cabiltes. “I just told the boys not to give up to stay with our system and to keep the pressure on. And it paid off in the end.”

Like Basilan, it took a while for Imus to warm up as it trailed Bulacan, 18-22.

Once homegrown Ian Melencio and starters Jhaymo Equilos, Adrian Santos and Moncrief Rogado, and veteran Leo Najorda found their rhythm, however, Imus pulled away at 56-36.

Melencio fired a team-high 15 points but Santos took best player of the game honors with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Eguilos contributed 13 points and 5 boards, Najorda 12 points and 4 assists, and Rogado added 11 points and 6 assists.

The 22-team event backed by Chooks-to-Go through its president Ronald Mascarinas, continues with another 5-game bill on Sunday, December 12. 

Nueva Ecija and Saranggani clash in the opener, followed by General Santos City against Rizal, Laguna against Bicol, Manila against Mindoro, and Negros against Bacolod.

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