By Jerome Lagunzad
(Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium)
7 p.m. – Valenzuela vs Quezon City
9 p.m. – Parañaque vs Bulacan
A pair of semifinal tickets is up for grabs as host Bulacan and three other teams figure in a pair of crucial matches tonight in the resumption of the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Rajah Cup playoffs at the Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium.
The second-seeded Kuyas, denied the last time out, are eager to bounce back from a crushing 81-54 loss to the seventh-ranked Parañaque Patriots in their do-or-die showdown that’s expected to draw a capacity crowd.
The winner in what promises to be an entertaining encounter at 9 p.m. will earn the right to take on the third-seeded Muntinlupa Cagers, who swept the sixth-ranked Navotas Clutch in the quarterfinals, in another best-of-three duel in the Final Four round.
Fifth-ranked Quezon City, which gave itself a lifeline following a 78-68 win in Game 2 over fourth-seeded Valenzuela, will try to make it two in a row as the Capitals slug it out anew with the Classic in the 7 p.m. opener.
Waiting in the wings in the other semis pairing is top-seeded Batangas City Athletics, who made quick work of the eight-ranked Bataan Defenders, led by four-time PBA scoring champion Gary David, in the quarterfinals.
Top guard Stephen Siruma, who struggled with just 14 points the last time, is expected to redeem himself as he leads the Kuyas’ charge alongside Jovit Dela Cruz, Jay-R Taganas and Jorey Napoles.
The Patriots, however, are expected to give the Kuyas, the pre-season champion, all they could handle behind the presence of main gunner Jong Baloria, who waxed hot with 26 points in Game 2, together with fellow Perpetual Help products Gab Dagangon and Harold Arboleda.
The opener should provide a fitting appetizer, with the likes of Quezon City’s Andoy Estrella, Hesed Gabo, Gian Abrigo and Jay Collado renewing their rivalry with Valenzuela counterparts Paolo Hubalde, Rocky Acidre, Ford Ruaya and Jeff Javillonar.