By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA—Aris Dionisio scored the winning shot as Manila repulsed Davao Occidental, 89-88, in the MPBL Datu Cup at the San Andres Sports Complex on Tuesday night.
In basically a no-bearing game as both sides already booked their places in the playoffs, Dionisio capped what had been a tight encounter with a layup with 18.3 seconds left as the Stars ended their regular season with their heads held high.
They were actually on track of pulling away after a 6-0 run gave them an 85-79 lead with 3:04 left.
But after a timeout, the Tigers answered with a 9-0 run to put them up, 88-85, with 45 seconds to go.
However, they began fizzling from there.
Cris Bitoon stole the ball from Joseph Terso and scored on a stop-and-pop long two that cut the lead down to one, 88-87, with 23.8 seconds remaining.
Dionisio then completed a steal off the inbound pass, and Marcy Arellano eventually found him cutting through the paint for the go-ahead basket.
Leo Najorda tried to steal the win for Davao Occ, but his triple rimmed out before time expired.
Bitoon and Dionisio each scored 17 points for Manila, which finished its campaign in the eliminations at 20-5.
Terso and Bonbon Custodio each had 22 markers for Davao Occ, which fell to 19-5.
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