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Basilan returns with a bang, rips Roxas in VisMin Cup Mindanao Finals opener

Chris Bitoon came alive for the Peace Riders on a night when Hesed Gabo was named MVP. Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas/Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Despite being out of action for nearly two weeks, Basilan still played superb basketball on Sunday night as if it has not been absent at all.

The Peace Riders moved to within a win from completing the domination of the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup Mindanao leg after mauling the Roxas Vanguards, 81-69, in Game 1 of the best-of-three conference finals at the Pagadian City Gymnasium.

Moments after Hesed Gabo won the Mindanao leg MVP, his backup, Chris Bitoon, took over for Basilan in the series opener as the team remained sharp despite sitting out for 10 days as a reward for going 8-0 in the eliminations and forcing a stepladder playoff format that Roxas had to survive to enter the finals.

The Peace Riders quickly raced to a double-digit spread even as their bench players led by Bitoon provided huge contributions to stomp their class over a struggling Vanguards squad.

Bitoon finished with 20 points on 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc for Basilan, which can finish a 2-0 sweep of the finals--and a full 10-0 sweep of the Mindanao leg--on Monday night.

Michael Mabulac, who joined Gabo in the Mythical Team, added 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, and one steal.

Gabo still played decently, making 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, four steals, and one block.

Chito Jaime and Leo Najorda each tallied 16 markers for Roxas, which now needs to beat Basilan in Game 2 to force a rubber match on Tuesday night.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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