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Valenzuela forces win-or-go-home against Caloocan as Quezon City advances to North Finals


Quezon City eliminated Manila-INGCO to reach the North Division Finals while Valenzuela-San Marino hung tough over Caloocan-Gerry’s Grill to stay alive in the Metro League Reinforced (Second) Conference semifinal action Saturday night at the Caloocan Sports Complex.

Led by the troika of Ibrahim Outtara, John Mahari, and Mon Mabayo, the top-seeded and twice-to-beat armed Capitals took a 54-37 lead at the half to quickly take the fight out of the fourth-ranked Manila on their way to an easy 117-100 victory.

Outtara, a former UP Maroon, recorded a double-double of 21 points and 16 rebounds, Mahari came up with a 19-marker, six-rebound and five-assist output while Mabayo added 16 points for QC which took the most out of its playoff incentive after topping the North Division elims.

Kojak Melegrito also added 11 points while Rod Vasallo and Roque Estoce Jr. chipped in 10 markers apiece for a well-balanced attack of the Capitals who arranged a Finals faceoff against the winner of Valenzuela-San Marino and Caloocan-Gerry’s Grill rubber match in the North Division of this M-League tourney that is backed by Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) with Barangay 143 as league presentor.

Only Andrian Celada came to fight for Manila with 29 points and 11 rebounds, his best game in the tournament which went for naught.

In the second game, No. 3-ranked Valenzuela staved off elimination, fending off No. 2-seed Caloocan 74-68 behind the combined efforts of Erwin Sta. Maria and John Tayontong to drag their semis series into a sudden-death Game 2 this Tuesday at the Strike Gym in Bacoor.

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Handicapped with a win-to-twice mission, the Workhorses banked on a strong third quarter stand to run away from the Supremos who went neck-and-neck with them in the first half.

With a 57-48 cushion entering the final canto, there was no stopping Valenzuela as Tayontong sank pressure-packed charities in the last minute to seal the deal.

Tayontong and Sta. Maria finished with 16 points each while Reneford Ruaya also contributed 13 points for Valenzuela which tries to go for the kill against Caloocan and earn the right to face Quezon City for the North Division title in the M-League that is also bankrolled by Synergy 88, World Balance, Excellent Noodles and San Miguel Corporation as major sponsors.

This win was a quick redemption for the Workhorses who wasted a chance of bumping off QC from its spot atop of the North Division with a crucial 90-99 loss at the end of elimination round of the M-League which also has has SMS Global Technologies, Inc. as official livestream and technology partner, Spalding as official ball, Team Rebel Sports as official outfitter, PLDT as official internet service provider and Manila Bulletin as media partner.

Meanwhile, Joseph Bauzon and Robbie Darang posted 17 and 14 points, respectively, in the loss of Caloocan which will need to regroup and survive another game against the San Marino Tuna Lovers to claim the 2nd FInals berth in the North Division of the M-League that is also supported by Gerry’s Grill, Summit Water, Alcoplus, Nature’s Spring and Goodfellow.

The Scores:

First Game:

Quezon City 117 – Outtara 21, Mahari 19, Mabayo 16, Melegrito 11, Estoce Jr 10, Vasallo 10, Comia 7, Espanola 7, Macaballug 7, Delos Reyes 5, Asuncion 2, Udjan 2, Barraquias 0

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Manila-INGCO 100 – Celada 29, Acosta 13, Laude 11, Camacho 10, Castro 9, Alban 8, Manalo 8, Mendoza 5, King 4, Balagtas 3

Quartescores: 26-25, 54-42, 82-64, 117-100

Second Game:

Valenzuela-San Marino 74 – Tayontong 16, Sta. Maria 16, Raya 13, Natividad 7, Laminou 7, Esplana 7, Monteclaro 5, Diego 2, Dela Cruz 1, Pascua 0, Rivera 0, Kalaw 0

Caloocan-Gerry’s Grill 68 – Bauzon 17,Darang 14, De Mesa 11, Niang 9, De Leon 7, Sombero 6, Brutas 4, Ngo 0, Tay 0, Enriquez 0, Flores 0

Quarterscores: 11-14, 34-32, 57-48, 74-68

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