BALANGA – The Manila Stars edged home team Bataan Risers, 56-51, to set up a best-of-three showdown with the San Juan Knights in the MPBL Datu Cup northern division finals.
Engaged in a defensive struggle by the Risers, the Stars got a timely explosion from Riel Cervantes, who unloaded 18 of his 20 points in the second half, highlighted by his two triples in the final two-minute mark to steer Manila to a series clinching victory over Bataan, the top seed team in the tournament.
Cervantes hit two triples – the first one in the 2:34 mark that gave the Stars a 51-45 lead and the other one with 1:09 left that put Manila ahead, 54-47, and practically took the fight out of the Risers.
Just as expected, both teams struggled on shooting, just like any other games here at the People’s Center. No team shot better than 28-percent with Bataan making only 19-of-66. Manila was even terrible, hitting only 25-percent (20-of-80).
Still, Manila found a way to win despite shooting only 50-percent from the foul line (12-of-24) as Bataan even had a horrendous stint shooting from the foul line of its home floor, making only 37-percent (10-of-27).