by Jerome Lagunzad
Games Today (Valenzuela Astrodome)
7 p.m. – Batangas City vs Bataan
(Athletics lead series 1-0)
9 p.m. – Quezon City vs Valenzuela
(Classic lead series 1-0)
Pre-season champion Bulacan and Muntinlupa pulled off a pair of impressive victories on Thursday night to close in on the Final Four round of the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Rajah Cup at the Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium.
Stephen Siruma dished out his finest offensive performance yet with 24 points, 17 of them coming in the first half, while Jovit Dela Cruz, Jay-R Taganas and Jorey Napoles churned in big number as the second-ranked Kuyas turned back the No. 7 Parañaque Patriots, 83-73.
Dela Cruz tallied 16 points on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting from the field while Taganas and Napoles anchored the lane, combining for 27 rebounds on top of 20 points and eight assists, to help Bulacan stretch its winning run to six matches dating back to eliminations.
Not to be outdone were the third-seeded Cagers, who defeated sixth-ranked Navotas Clutch, 83-77.
Former pro Chito Jaime had a team-high 19 points while ex-Letran stalwart Felix Apreku tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds but it was guard Allan Mangahas who delivered the biggest bucket, a tie-breaking triple that gave Muntinlupa a 79-76 lead with 36 seconds to play.
Former University of the East stalwart Gino Jumao-as fired 12 points off the bench while ex-Far Eastern University wingman Ron Dennison added 10 points but Navotas sorely missed the presence of top guard JP Calvo, who made just four of his 15 attempts from the field, no thanks to Muntinlupa’s stymieing defense.
Jong Baloria finished with 16 points while fellow Perpetual Help products Gab Dagangon and Harold Arboleda teamed up for 24 points that all went down the drain with Parañaque’s setback.
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