MALOLOS — North second seed Manila-Frontrow hacked out an 82-80 victory over seventh-ranked Pasig-Sta. Lucia, to barge into the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan semifinals, Saturday at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center here.
Trailing by eight points with less than a minute to go, Realtor Robbie Manalang sank back-to-back triples to cut their deficit to just two, 82-80, with 22.5 ticks left.
On the other end, Manila guard Chris Bitoon was intentionally fouled. Shooting 77-percent from the stripe this season, Bitoon flanked both of his freebies with 17 seconds remaining.
With a chance to win or tie the game, Pasig went to Jeric Teng who drove to the basket but missed his shot, but the ball bounced to Argel Mendoza at the three-point line, however, his last-ditch trey missed.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, after nung three-point shots ni Manalang, stay composed, huwag mag-panic at nandoon pa rin dapat ang depensa, lamang pa rin tayo,” said Manila head coach Tino Pinat.
Carlo Lastimosa led the Stars anew with 21 points while Bitoon delivered 19 markers, seven rebounds, and six assists.
Aris Dionisio followed suit with 14 points and eight boards while Mark Dyke chipped in 13 markers and 10 rebounds.
Teng paced Pasig with 25 points and 10 boards while Josan Nimes added 21 markers and 10 rebounds.
The Stars will collide against the winner of the Makati-Bulacan series in the semifinals.
Manila-Frontrow 82 – Lastimosa 21, Bitoon 19, Dionisio 14, Dyke 13, Espinas 4, Go 3, Matias 2, Tallo 2, Lee 2, Abrigo 2, Hayes 0.
Pasig-Sta. Lucia 80 – Teng 25, Nimes 21, Najorda 14, Manalang 12, Tamayo 6, Gotladera 2, Velchez 0, Mendoza 0, Grealy 0.
Quarterscores: 22-14, 42-32, 64-62, 82-80.
Story by Justin Valencia
Photos by Thel Suliva
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