BACOOR CITY — Ian Melencio is proud to say he gave it his all in their last game in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Semifinals against third seed Basilan-Jumbo Plastic.
The 5-foot-8 combo guard drilled three three-pointers in the fourth period. The last one — an off-the-backboard triple — knotted the match at 71-all with 2:49 left on the clock.
“Binigay ko na ang lahat ng makakaya ko kasi ayaw ko pang matapos ‘yung season namin eh. Last season kasi hanggang quarterfinals lang kami sa Imus,” said Melencio.
Basilan star Allyn Bulanadi had the last laugh, though. The Gilas cadet heated up late, burying three straight triples to give his side an insurmountable nine-point edge at the 1:31 mark, 80-71.
Eventually, the Steel escaped with an 84-76 victory over the second seed Bacoor, to advance to the South Division Finals, Saturday at the Strike Gymnasium here.
The Cavite street hoops legend finished with 22 points on a respectable 4-of-6 clip from downtown, on top of five rebounds, four assists, one steal, without committing a single turnover.
“Home court pa namin eh, kaya sinabi ko hindi talaga ako magpapatalo. Pero wala eh, kinapos pa rin.”
In Game Two, Melencio also took over with 17 points, four steals, three rebounds, and an assist.
“Malaking bagay na nawala si Gab Banal sa amin kasi facilitator at scorer, kaya noong nawala siya, nagtulong-tulong na lang kami para ‘yung nawala sa kanya, kami na ang susuporta.”
Coach Chris Gavina expected Melencio to be the sparkplug when the Reigning MVP missed Games Two and Three due to an MCL injury.
“Every time we haven’t had the services of Gab, Ian has really come along and stepped up. He has a big heart for such a small guy.”
Now, Gavina hopes that Melencio can use the pain he is in as motivation for the next season, to return stronger and go all the way.
Story by Justin Valencia
Photo by Nicks Hernandez