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Manila ends Bacoor City's long streak to stay in MPBL North top seed race

Cris Bitoon and Carlo Lastimosa celebrate after the Stars converted a play. MPBL
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—The Manila Stars put an end to the Bacoor City Strikers' winning streak in the MPBL Lakan Season with a 78-74 road win at the STRIKE Gym in Bacoor on Monday night.

After a tight first quarter of the game with a huge bearing in the race for the top seed in their respective divisions, Manila slowly pulled away from Bacoor City in the second and the third quarters, eventually opening a 61-42 lead with six minutes left in the third.

The Strikers fought back, going on a 20-4 run to trim the lead to just three, 65-62, with 7:46 to play in the fourth quarter.

"Naging complacent kasi kami eh. Nilakad namin yung dapat itinatakbo namin. Doon kami nagkamali," Coach Tino Pinat described how the Stars conceded such a run.

Manila, however, quickly regained momentum and extended their lead back to 10, 76-66, with 3:41 to go.

Bacoor City had one final push, trimming the gap to just six, 78-72, with only 44 seconds remaining and getting a stop as Oping Sumalinog stole the ball from Marvin Lee.

Sumalinog and RJ Ramirez, however, misfired their three-point attempts that could have brought the distance between the two teams to just a single possession, and their endgame move fell short.

"Naging composed lang kami noong fourth quarter," added Pinat, whose Stars are now at 24-5, a half-game behind the San Juan Knights for first place in the Northern Division.

Aris Dionisio led Manila with 22 points, six rebounds, and two blocks, while Carlo Lastimosa added 17 points, five rebounds, and three assists for Manila.

Ramirez put up 15 markers, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal for Bacoor City, which dearly missed Gab Banal, who only arrived earlier Monday with the rest of Mighty Sports, as the team saw its eight-game winning streak snapped at home.

Worse, the result put Davao Occidental, 86-79 winner over Nueva Ecija in the earlier Monday, to within an arm's reach of the top seed in the Southern Division.

The Tigers can seal the top seed with either a win against the Biñan City Heroes on Thursday night at the latter's home, the Alonte Sports Arena, or if the Strikers lose to the Iloilo United Royals also on Thursday night.

The Scores:

Manila-Frontrow 78 - Dionisio 22, Lastimosa 17, Bitoon 11, Abrigo 7, Espinas 7, Dyke 4, Matias 3, Lee 3, Arellano 2, Hayes 2, Montilla 0, Go 0, Camacho 0.

Bacoor City 74 - Ramirez 15, Sumalinog 10, Pangilinan 10, Demusis 8, Mabulac 6, Destacamento 6, Acuña 4, Cañete 4, Melencio 4, Montuano 3, Ochea 2, Aquino 2, Acidre 0.

Quarterscores: 24-24, 44-39, 65-55, 78-74.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno