Unbeaten Bacoor Strike sa Serbisyo punched a ticket to the Metro League Reinforced Conference Finals after beating Taguig 96-83 in the South Division championship late Tuesday night at its Strike Gym homecourt in Bacoor City, Cavite.
Inspired by a wild home crowd and Congressman Strike Revilla in attendance, the Strikers raced to a quick 46-32 halftime lead behind the combined efforts of Kenmark Miranda together with the ex-FEU Tamaraws connection of RJ Ramirez and Prince Orizu and never looked back.
With a sizzling 50-percent shooting from the field, Bacoor even continued step on the gas from thereon, widening the gap to as many as 24 points in the one-sided contest on its way to its 11th win in as many games since the elimination round of the South Division of the M-League that is backed by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) with Barangay 143 as league presentor.
Bacoor thus advanced to a best-of-three grand finale next week against the North Division winner which will either be Quezon City or Caloocan, which are both going for each other’s throats this Saturday in the latter’s homecourt.
Miranda finished with an efficient 19 points in just 18 minutes of play, Ramirez added 14 while Nigerian reinforcement Orizu posted a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double for Bacoor which eliminated Pasigueño 86-68 in a one-game semis faceoff Thursday last week.
Mark Pangilinan and Paolo Castro also contributed 12 and 11 markers, respectively, for the Strikers who completed a rare double championship win at home, its boys’ team earlier beating Las Piñas 68-41 to cop the 17-and-under South Division title.
Former Naga College Foundation slotman Emmanuel Ojuola, for his part, tallied 23 points and 15 rebounds in a losing cause for the Generals who badly missed the services of ex-pro and top player Jonathan Uyloan.
Uyloan, who was averaging 11.6 points, 6.2 assists, 4.1, rebounds and 3.1 steals in the tournament, suffered a foot injury in practice the previous day.
Taguig lost a close one 80-77 to Bacoor in their elimination round meeting held at its Hagonoy Gym homecourt last May 4 with Uyloan in harness.
In a North Division semifinal rubber-match in the first game, No. 2 seed and erstwhile twice-to-beat Caloocan-Gerry’s Grill eliminated all-Filipino champion Valenzuela-San Marino this time with a 77-67 victory, ending the Tuna Lovers’ bid for back-to-back titles in the M-League that is also bankrolled by Synergy 88, World Balance, Excellent Noodles and San Miguel Corporation as major sponsors.
Up by just a lone point, 58-57, midway through the final canto of a tighty-contested battle, the Supremos closed out the Workhorses with a 19-10 blast to secure the gritty win that pushed them to the North Division Finals of the M-League that is also supported by Gerry’s Grill, Summit Water, Alcoplus, Nature’s Spring and Goodfellow.
After a paltry 68-74 loss to Valenzuela in their first semis meeting last Saturday, four players stepped up to score in double digits this time for Caloocan led by wingman Reynaldo De Mesa who finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Johnnel Rey Bauzon and Robbie Marion Darang added 17 and 15 markers, respectively, while import Abdoulaye Niang posted 14 points and 15 boards for the Supremos, setting up a Top 2 seeds clash with QC for the North Division title.
The Capitals had previously booked their ticket to the North Division title match after a quick work of Manila-INGCO in the semis 117-100 also last Thursday.
Meanwhile, Reneford Ruaya and Nikki Monteclaro racked up 18 and 15 markers, respectively, for the Workhorses who formally bowed out of the tournament that also has SMS Global Technologies, Inc. as official livestream and technology partner, Spalding as official ball, Team Rebel Sports as official outfitter, PLDT as official internet service provider and Manila Bulletin as media partner.
North Division Semifinals:
Caloocan 77 — De Mesa 22, Bauzon 17, Darang 15, Niang 13, Brutas 5, Flores 5, Tay 0, De Leon 0, Ortiz 0
Valenzuela 67 — Ruaya 18, Monteclaro 15, Diego 8, Esplana 7, Tayongtong 6, Laminou 6, Pascua 4, Natividad 3, Rivera 0, Kalaw 0, Sta. Maria 0
Quarterscores: 23-18, 34-33, 56-52, 77-67
South Division Finals:
Bacoor Strike sa Serbisyo 96 — Miranda 19, Ramirez 14, Orizu 13, Pangilinan 12, Castro 11, Montuano 8, Acuna 5, Descamento 5, Malabag 5, Aquino 0, Doligon 0, Bugarin 0
Taguig 83 — Ojuola 23, Sampurna 14, Mayo 12, Francisco 10, Rublico 7, Gozum 6, Monte 4, Alcantara 3, Subrabas 2, Guiyab 1, Lontoc 1, Gilbero 0, Oliveria 0
Quarterscores: 25-16, 46-32, 75-54, 96-83.