By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Bataan spoiled a record-setting moment from Paolo Castro and mauled Paranaque, 102-73, in the MPBL Datu Cup at the Bataan People's Center in Balanga on Thursday night.
Castro set a league record for a half after going for 23 points in the first 20 minutes as the also-ran Patriots kept the game tight, just trailing the Risers by three, 44-47, at halftime.
But Bataan stifled him and the rest of Paranaque in the second half, outscoring the visiting side, 55-29, to pull away for good.
Gab Dagangon scored 21 points and five rebounds in only 16 and a half minutes for the Risers, who despite securing the top seed for the entire playoffs already are still showing their winning form, moving up to 22-2.
Byron Villarias added 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals off the bench.
Castro was just limited to only a point, a free throw late in the fourth quarter when the outcome was all but settled, in the second half and finished with 24 markers alongside seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal for the Patriots, who fell to 8-16.
While the game is a no-bearing one for both Bataan and Paranaque, it had a huge impact in Binan's playoff chances as the team can only hope for a three-way tie for eighth place for it to barge through the postseason through the quotients.
But with the Patriots losing, the Heroes, who lost the two-way tiebreaker to the Imus Bandera by virtue of the latter's 67-65 win on Nov. 8, were also knocked out of contention, giving the Bandera the free ride to the playoffs, thus completing the Southern Division cast.
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