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Bacoor City survives against Bulacan for 8th straight win

Ian Melencio led the charge for the Gab Banal-less Strikers. MPBL
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Bacoor City bungled in the third quarter but still prevailed in the end against Bulacan, 78-76, in the MPBL Lakan Season at the Cuneta Astrodome on Tuesday night.

Playing without Gab Banal, who is in Dubai with Mighty Sports for the Dubai International Basketball Championship, the Strikers failed to sustain a solid second quarter that saw them dropping 30 to take a 50-35 halftime lead as the Kuyas limited them to just nine points in the third period to cut the lead down to two, 59-57.

Bulacan's resurgence continued to the first six minutes of the fourth quarter as the team finally got the lead, 71-66. Bacoor City, however, responded with an 8-0 run to retake the lead, 74-71, with 2:09 to play.

Jovit Dela Cruz set up the wild finish after making two free throws to cut the lead down to one, 74-73, even as RJ Ramirez and Stephen Siruma exchanged triples in the ensuing possessions.

The Strikers had a chance to get a better cushion, but Oping Sumalinog could only make a split from the line with 10 seconds to go.

They only walked away with the win after Jay-R Taganas missed a potential game winning three pointer at the final buzzer.

"We didn't shut down when Bulacan made a tremendous run. We made the plays we needed to make. We got the steals that we needed in the endgame," said Bacoor City coach Chris Gavina.

Ian Melencio led the charge for the Strikers, who scored their eighth straight win, with 13 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Sumalinog, Nick Demusis, and Mark Pangilinan each added 11 points.

The Strikers are now at 23-5, virtually tying the Davao Occidental Tigers (22-4) for the top spot in the Southern Division.

Siruma finished with 13 markers, one rebound, and four dimes for the Kuyas, who fell to a tie with the Bataan Risers for fifth place in the Northern Division at 18-10, leaving the Pampanga Giant Lanterns (18-9) alone in fifth place. Pampanga has a chance to force a tie for fourth place with Bataan against Cebu later Tuesday.

The Scores:

Bacoor City 78 - Melencio 13, Demusis 11, Pangilinan 11, Sumalinog 11, Mabulac 9, Montuano 6, Ramirez 6, Cañete 5, Acuña, Aquino 2, Destacamento 2, Acidre 0.

Bulacan 76 - Siruma 13, Alabanza 12, Santos 12, Taganas 9, Dela Cruz 7, Alvarez 6, Arim 5, Nermal 5, Capacio 3, Escosio 2, Diputado 2.

Quarterscores: 20-19, 50-35, 59-57, 78-76.

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