PERFECT NO MORE | Muntinlupa suffers first loss at hands of Manila

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--In just one snap, Muntinlupa's unbeaten record in the MPBL Datu Cup is gone.

The Cagers dropped their first loss of the season, bowing at home to the Manila Stars, 86-100, at the Muntinlupa Sports Center on Wednesday night.

Coach Philip Cezar seemed to have found a solution to Coach Aldin Ayo's "mayhem" defense especially down the stretch, when the Cagers tried to pull off a comeback, something Coach Bo Perasol struggled to find earlier Wednesday when his UP Fighting Maroons bowed to Ayo's UST Growling Tigers in Pasay.

[Related Story: UST ends first round by taming UP]

Muntinlupa was actually on a good track to keep its record unblemished as it took a 20-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

However, Manila limited Muntinlupa to just 13 points in the second period, and the former entered halftime ahead, 37-33.

The Cagers came alive offensively in the third quarter and were on pace again of winning after going up, 63-56.

But a off-the-glass triple from Aris Dionisio capped a 9-2 Stars run to close the third and force a 65-all tie.

Chris Bitoon then came alive in the final period, opening it with five straight points to put Manila up, 70-65.

Muntinlupa tried to take the lead back, especially when Ayo employed his trademark pressure defense on Manila.

However, the Stars were quick to get out of the press, leading to easy layups that helped blow the game wide open in the end.

Reil Cervantes came close to a triple-double for Manila, which moved up to solo second place in the Northern Division at 9-2, with 17 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists with two steals.

Bitoon finished with 16 points, one rebound, six assists, and three steals, while Dionisio chipped in 15 points, 20 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and three blocks.

Allan Mangahas led Muntinlupa, which prior to the defeat was 8-0, with 23 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, and four steals.

With the result, Bataan now holds the best record of the tournament at 9-1.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno