Bacoor City–Bacoor struck back while Davao Occidental cruised to the finals in the Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Davao Season on Thursday at Strike Gymnasium here.
Propped up by hometown fans, the Bacoor Strikers started hot and never wavered to batter the Basilan Steel, 80-69, level their own semifinal series at 1-1 and force a decider today March 7 at the same venue.
Asserting their mastery over Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines, the Tigers prevailed anew, 62-58, to sweep their South division semifinals, 2-0.
Though they missed MPBL Datu Cup MVP Gab Banal due to a sprained medial collateral ligament, the Strikers surged ahead at 37-10 before fending off the Basilenos’ final assault that brought them to within, 69-76, in the homestretch.
Sans Banal, who sustained the injury following a collision with Basilan star Allyn Bulanadi in Game 1 won by the Steel (77-63), former pro Michael Mabulac, homegrown talents Ian Melencio and Mark Montuano and Mark Pangilinan delivered for coach Chris Gavina’s charges.
Mabulac scored 14 points and grabbed 19 rebounds as the Strikers ruled the boards, 58-39. Melencio, an icon in Cavite leagues before joining the MPBL, tallied 17 points and four assists; Montuano contributed 15 points plus seven boards, and Pangilinan chipped in 10 points.
Basilan, mentored by Jerson Cabiltes, got 16 points from Bulanadi, a Gilas pool member, 15 points from five triples by former pro Jonathan Uyloan and 11 from Chris Dumapig.
Proving their 47-28 dumping of the Zamboanguenos in Game 1 was no fluke, the Cocolife-backed Tigers, with Kenneth Mocon at the helm, pulled away at 59-45 midway of the fourth quarter.
Zamboanga, through Alvin Pasaol, Santi Santillan, Anton Asistio, and Robin Roño persevered to threaten at 58-61 with 48 seconds left.
Davao’s Mark Yee, playing despite a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear, muffed a 3-pointer to give Zamboanga one last chance to extend the game.
Asistio, however, missed the probable game-tying three-pointer, after which Davao’s Bonbon Custodio split his charities for the final count.
Mocon led Davao with14 points built on four three-pointers while hounding Asistio in the last quarter.
Chester Saldua supported Mocon with eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists, while James Forrester posted eight points, for rebounds, three assists and two steals for coach Don Dulay.
Hobbling for 12 minutes and 31 seconds, Yee accounted for four points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal for Davao, which will face the winner of the Bacoor-Basilan tussle in the South finals starting on Monday (March 9).
Zamboanga native Robin Roño fired 15 points, Leonard Santillan posted 12 points and eight boards while Asistio finished with 14 points.