Manila survives Pasig's endgame push to sweep MPBL playoff series

Cris Bitoon and the rest of the Stars got a sigh of relief in the end. MPBL
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—The Manila Stars needed to repulse a late run from the Pasig Realtors to take Game 2 of their MPBL Northern Division Playoff series, 82-80, at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center on Saturday night.

Manila was on track of manhandling Pasig after taking an 82-74 lead with 1:31 left in the game, but Robbie Manalang fired back-to-back triples to cut the lead down to just two with 22.5 seconds left.

Coach Tino Pinat tried to pacify the Stars during the timeout following Manalang's last trey.

"Sabi ko sa kanila, after nung three-point shots ni Manalang, 'Stay composed. Huwag mag-panic,'" Pinat bared what he told his players.

But the pressure caught up on Cris Bitoon when he, a 77 percent free throw shooter during the regular season, missed two freebies that could have iced the game for them.

They just escaped when Jeric Teng missed a potential equalizer and Argel Mendoza's three-pointer at the final buzzer that could have won it for the Realtors.

Carlo Lastimosa led Manila, which moves on to the North semifinals, with 21 points, one rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Bitoon added 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and one steal, while Mark Dyke had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds alongside four assists and one steal.

Teng finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block, while Josan Nimes added 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and one steal for Pasig.

The Scores:

Manila-Frontrow 82 - Lastimosa 21, Bitoon 19, Dionisio 14, Dyke 13, Espinas 4, Go 3, Matias 2, Tallo 2, Lee 2, Abrigo 2, Hayes 0.

Pasig-Sta. Lucia 80 - Teng 25, Nimes 21, Najorda 14, Manalang 12, Tamayo 6, Gotladera 2, Velchez 0, Mendoza 0, Grealy 0.

Quarterscores: 22-14, 42-32, 64-62, 82-80.

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