Manila and Taguig kept their hold of the North and South Divisions lead, respectively, by beating separate opponents last Tuesday at the Hagonoy Sports Complex while each moving two wins away from a twice-to-beat advantage in the division semifinals of the Metro League Open basketball tournament organized by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and supported by the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
The All-Stars of head coach Adoe Salazar and Mayor Joseph E. Estrada walloped winless Las Piñas, 101-71, for their fourth straight win to improve to a league-best 6-1 slate. The Generals of head coach Bing Victoria and Mayor Lani Cayetano survived Parañaque at home, 88-83, for their third win in a row, which upped their record to 5-2 in the 10-team tournament which has “mobile app ng bayan” Barangay 143 as presentor, Spalding as the official ball, and Team Rebel Sports as official outfitter.
In the only other game, Valenzuela nipped Quezon City in overtime, 99-96, to grab second place in the North Division, improving their record to 5-1 and priming the Supremos up for a much-awaited clash for the North Division lead with Manila on Thursday at the San Dionisio Gym in Parañaque.
The All-Stars and Supremos will mix it up in the 4 p.m. opener of a tripleheader. Pateros look to bounce back against San Juan at 5:30 p.m., and Quezon City will try for a bounce-back win after back-to-back losses in the 7 p.m. third game against hosts Parañaque.
Almel Orquina, Kenneth Acibar, Mark Cruz, Paolo Quiminales, Daniel Martinez, and Mark Yu scored almost at will to power the All Stars to a smashing victory over the Home Defenders. Orquina finished with 21 points – all from the three-point territory – to lead a balanced scoring attack by Manila, which hardly missed the services of ex-PBA star Joseph Yeo in the lineup.
Kervin Lucente almost single-handedly carried the fight for Las Piñas with 23 points and 20 rebounds.
Joshua Icawat added 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals for the seven-player Home Defenders, who fell to 0-8.
The game was one-sided, with Manila shooting better from the floor with 43-of-90 (47 percent) against Las Piñas’ 29-of-82 (35 percent).
The All Stars also had more rebounds (59-47), more assists (35-16) and more steals ( 9-7).
Taguig had three players in double figures to stave off Parañaque and solidify their hold on the lead in the South Division of the tournament, which also has Synergy 88, San Miguel Corp., World Balance, Frabelle Foods, Summit Mineral Water, Alco Plus, Gerry’s Grill, Excellent Noodles, glitter.ph, SM Supermalls, and Nature’s Spring as major sponsors.
The Workhorses scored the last six points in overtime – a floating jump shot by Dan Natividad, a three-pointer by Kevin Espinosa and a split by Gianne Paulo Rivera – to escape with the win over the Junior Capitals in a heart-stopping duel between two top teams in the North.
Before Valezuela’s 6-0 windup, John Mahari completed a three-point play to put Quezon City ahead for the last time at 95-93 with only 1:26 left.
Erwin Sta.Maria led all scorers with 32 points on 15-of-24 shooting, while Espinosa added 19 points and six rebounds for Valenzuela, who moved half a game behind Manila.
Espinosa also hit two free throws that sent the game into overtime, 87-all.
John Tayongtong flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists for the Gerry Esplana-coached Workhorses of Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian.
Roque Estoce, Jr. had a team-high 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting and Jefferson Comia added 24 points, four rebounds, and four assists for the 4-2 Junior Capitals of head coach JP Ycasiano and Mayor Herbert Bautista.
Only the top four teams from each group will advance to the division semifinals after the eliminations, where teams play each other once including those in the other division. The Top 2 in each division having a twice-to-beat advantage in the division semis.
Manila (101) – Orquina 21, Acibar 19, Cruz 12, Quiminales 11, Yu 10, Martinez 10, Mallari 7, Manalo 5, Matignas 4, Tubera 2, Luke 0
Las Piñas (71) – Lucente 23, Icawat 18, Bueno 10, Dickens 9, Gragasin 7, Chavez 4, Villamor 0
Quarterscores: 20-10, 50-25, 73-43, 101-71.
Valenzuela (99) – Sta.Maria 32, Espinosa 19, Tayongtong 17, Natividad 14, Pascua 9, Rivera 4, Esplana 2, Chua 2, Gamboa 0, Martin 0
Quezon City (96) – Estoce 26, Comia 24, Mahari 18, Udjan 6, Tabi 6, Abarcar 6, Macaballug 5, Salazar 2, Riva 1, Gomez De Liano 0.
Quarterscores: 18-20, 36-48, 63-67, 87-87, 99-96.
Taguig (88) – Monte 17, Lumungsod 13, Alcantara 11, Ajero 9, Albo 8, Lontoc 6, Mayo 6, Cambaya 5, Gilbero 5, Oliveria 2, Almerol 2, Tonggal 2, Dela Virgen 2
Parañaque (83) – Gusi 16, Capacio 15, Indoy 12, Rodriguez 11, Encela 11, Dalaten 8, Villareal 4, Partosa 3, Danac 2, Custodio 1, Elorde 0,
Quarterscores: 21-22, 48-44, 67-62, 88-83.