BACOOR CITY — Third seed Basilan-Jumbo Plastic was missing an integral piece when they faced sixth seed Iloilo on Wednesday night.
Allyn Bulanadi, who came in the tail-end of the Steel’s elimination round, playing in their last seven regular season games has never failed to score in double digits. However, Basilan missed his 21.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists averages as he needed to attend to Gilas duties.
But head coach Jerson Cabiltes takes pride in his team “that is built for games like these”.
“We built this team for these situations. Next man up attitude. Kung may mawala, kung sino ang susunod, he needs to contribute.”
The main catalyst for the Steel was Jhapz Bautista, who finished with 21 points, on a very efficient 8-of-10 shooting, including a perfect 5-of-5 from the two-point area while also draining three triples.
Entering the fourth period, the Steel were already ahead by eight, 61-53. Then came Bautista to put the nail in the coffin.
He sparked a 14-2 telling blast, scoring 10 of those on an and-one, two layups, and a triple while Bobby Balucanag and Gab Dagangon also putting two points apiece to build an insurmountable 20-point lead with 4:40 left, 75-55.
“Always ready lang ako. Kung may mawala sa amin, step up lang ako, focus lang.”
Bautista also had an additional motivation to grab the victory. The mission? To close out the series in front of their hometown crowd on Monday, February 24.
“Gusto ko lang manalo talaga dito ngayon kasi ‘yung Game Two, sa Basilan gaganapin. Kailangan namin makuha ito para pagdating namin doon, maganda ang maipakita namin sa kanila.”
In the other quarterfinals matchup, second seed Bacoor feasted on GenSan-Burlington, 95-72, for the 1-0 lead.
Story by Justin Valencia
Photos by Nicks Hernandez