Third seed Makati-Super Crunch pulled all the stops it needed to forge a winner-take-all Game Three against second-ranked Manila-Frontrow, 75-59, in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan semifinals at the San Andres Sports Complex, Wednesday.
After being limited to three points in Game One, Joshua Torralba bounced back with 23 points built on five triples, along with three rebounds, two blocks and a steal to lift Makati.
“When they go small, sabi ko ‘Sabayan na natin’,” said Makati coach Beaujing Acot. “Tapos na i-stop na natin si [Chris] Bitoon and si [Carlo] Lastimosa.”
Lastimosa, who was averaging 23.0 points in the playoffs, only had seven points on 2-of-17 shooting. Meanwhile, Bitoon went just 2-of-9 from the field for eight points.
Trailing 31-47 midway through the third period, the Stars uncorked 12 unanswered points carrying into the fourth frame. Marvin Hayes’ post shot then capped the run to trim the 17-point hole to just four, 43-47.
But Makati fought back with an 8-2 blast to restore order, 55-45. The lead would eventually balloon to 18 on a Jeckster Apinan layup with 1:21 left, 75-57.
It also did not help Manila that it went 0-of-6 in the charity stripe in the payoff period.
Jong Baloria chipped in 15 markers, while Cedric Ablaza added 10 points. Apinan had a complete game of eight markers, 17 rebounds, and four dimes as well.
With 45 seconds left, Makati — already ahead by 16 — called a timeout, already ahead by 16, angering Manila.
On the other hand, Mark Dyke and Marvin Hayes paced Manila with 11 points apiece.
The Stars missed Gabby Espinas as he was rested by the coaching staff.
The rubber match will be on Friday, March 6, at the same Manila venue.
Makati-Super Crunch 75 — Torralba 23, Baloria 15, Ablaza 10, Apinan 8, Lingganay 6, Sedurifa 6, Villanueva 3, Importante 2, Cruz 2, Atkins 0.
Manila-Frontrow 59 — Dyke 11, Hayes 11, Dionisio 9, Bitoon 8, Lastimosa 7, Matias 6, Abrigo 5, Arellano 2, Tallo 0, Go 0, Lee 0.
Quarterscores: 19-8, 37-21, 47-41, 75-59.
Story by Justin Valencia
Photos by Thel Suliva