In a battle between two debuting MPBL squads, their marquee recruits made sure to grab the headlines.
But in the end, it was Mac Tallo and the Bacolod Master’s Sardines who came out victorious, outlasting Mac Baracael and the Mindoro Tamaraws, 87-83, Monday at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila.
“Medyo disappointed ako sa sarili ko kasi nung nag-PBA ako, medyo tumaba ako, hindi ako naging masyadong disiplinado,” said Tallo, the 10th overall pick in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft. “Kaya dito sa MPBL, may gusto akong i-prove dahil gusto ko ulit makabalik sa PBA.”
The Cebuano floor general exploded for 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting to go along with six assists and six steals.
And his wits proved to be pivotal in the endgame.
Down by two, Tallo scored on a layup to knot things up with 1:17 left. In the next possession, the former CESAFI MVP pick the pockets of Phapart Mandreza for the go-ahead bucket. A jumper by Tallo with 38 seconds remaining proved to be the dagger.
Jopher Custodio and Louie Medalla provided the bench support for Tallo, tallying 12 and 11 points respectively while combining for 13 boards.
Bacolod spoiled the debut of Mac Baracael, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds after being away from the game for one whole year.
Diliman College standout Joseph Brutas added 21 points for Mindoro.
In the main game, the Stars made sure that they capped the Araw ng Maynila festivities on the right note, whipping Nueva Ecija-MiGuard 96-86.
Ex-pro Carlo Lastimosa had 20 points to lead the way for the 2-0 Manila while Chris Bitoon supplied 18 points. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aris Dionisio tallied 10 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals.
But helping pave the way for the rout was Jollo Go as the former De La Salle Green Archer scored 14 points off the bench to help the Frontrow-backed Manila erect a 25-point lead in the early part of the final frame.
Jerwin Gaco paced Nueva Ecija with 19 points and nine rebounds while JR Cawaling added 18 points.
Marlon Monte chipped in 17 markers while pint-sized guard Levi Dela Cruz gobbled 12 rebounds for the 1-1 Nueva Ecija.
Bacolod 87 – Tallo 31, Custodio 12, Medalla 11, Javelona 7, Ortega 7, Cauilan 6, Soriano 5, Dimas 4, Alano 4, Porto 0, Dionson 0.
Mindoro 83 – Baracael 23, Brutas 21, Ilarde 11, Camacho 11, Vaygan 6, Mandreza 6, Cinco 3, Galinato 2, Bolos 0, Asis 0, Matias 0, Saret 0, Bangeles 0, Abanes 0.
Quarterscores: 14-21, 48-48, 70-66, 87-83.
Manila 96 – Lastimosa 20, Bitoon 18, Go 14, Dionisio 10, Dyke 8, Bringas 6, Lee 6, Lopez J 6, Arellano 5, Matias 3, Montilla 0, Sabellina 0, Lopez M 0, Hayes 0.
Nueva Ecija 86 – Gaco 19, Cawaling 18, Monte 17, Amenion 10, Sarao 8, Celada 6, Dela Cruz 6, Gozum 2, Acibar 0, Llagas 0, Chua 0.
Quarterscores: 30-18, 54-36, 79-57, 96-86.