Davao City—Mindanao squads Davao Occidental and Zamboanga made their presence felt at the start of the Final Four series of the MPBL Datu Cup late Wednesday night as they drew first blood over their respective rivals here at the Rizal memorial College.
The Family’s Brand Sardines-supported Zamboanga squad continued to make a splash in the playoffs. After beating the Muntinlupa Cagers, last season’s runner-up, the up and coming squad stamped its class on inaugural staging champion Batangas City with a 72-58 triumph and moved a win away from reaching the championship round of the division finals.
Zamboanga can secure a championship berth in the south with another win against the Tanduay-backed Athletics on Saturday, but the team will have to take it right at the enemy’s territory.
“Dati kamay lang ang puwede naming kunin. Ngayon, kung buong katawan pwede naming kuhain, gagawin namin,” said Zamboanga coach Raymond Valenzona.
Reed Juntilla and Robin Roño conspired in offense, scoring 19 points apiece, while Harold Arboleda concentrated on getting the rebounds and grabbed 15 boards, allowing Zamboanga to dominate the game on both ends of the court
Juntilla, an ex-pro, knocked down 10 of his total output in the final period and picked up from where Roño left off.
Roño had 16 bridging the second and third periods.
Zamboanga has become a big revelation in the playoffs as the sixth seeded team continued to make a good impression – and is now close to reaching the championship round of the southern division of this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
Davao City had to be tested by Bacoor before pulling off a 79-71 win in the other game.
The Cocolife-backed Tigers can wrap up the series with another win on Saturday and stop the Strikers’ Cinderella Run.
In a battle between two players battling it out for the MVP derby, Gab Banal got the better end of the individual duel, but Mark Yee prevailed when it comes to leading his team to victory.”‹