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Bataan nips Zamboanga at home

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MANILA — The Bataan Risers averted an upset from Zamboanga Valientes with a come-from-behind 76-74 home win in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga, Bataan on Monday night.

The Risers came back from a lethargic second quarter and the Valientes’ second half threat to retain the best record of the season.

Bataan seemed to be cruising over the new-look Zamboanga by posting a 25-19 lead after the first quarter.

But the Valientes limited the Risers to just 10 points in the second quarter to lead at halftime, 37-35. The visitors also closed the third quarter up by six, 58-52.

Bataan, however, went on a 14-3 run midway through the final period to open a 72-66 lead before holding off Zamboanga down the stretch.

Pamboy Raymundo came up with 15 points, two rebounds, four assists, and one steal to lead the Risers, which moved up to 16-2.

Gab Dagangon added 12 points, two rebounds, and three steals off the bench, while Alfred Batino chipped in 10 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, and two blocks.

Byron Villarias came close to a triple-double in his debut with the home side, putting up nine rebounds, eight points, and seven assists with two steals.

On the other hand, Von Lanete and Robin Roño each put up 18 markers for the Valientes, which fell to 11th place in the Southern Division at 7-11.

Meanwhile, the Manila Stars edged the Rizal Crusaders, 71-70, in the first game, to earn top spot in the Northern Division as well as the league overall.

Reil Cervantes scored on a follow-up with 26 seconds left as the Stars pipped the Crusaders.

Up 67-66 with 2:26 to go, Manila was held scoreless by Rizal for nearly two minutes, and the latter even took a 70-67 lead.

However, Marvin Hayes sparked the Stars’s endgame hurrah after converting an opportunity off a Jerome Juanico foul.

Hayes missed the bonus free throw, but the ball eventually ended in the hands of Cervantes, who put the ball back in to give them the lead.

Eric Dela Cuesta had a chance to steal the win, but missed the potential go-ahead trey, and Juanico’s follow-up to equalize was swatted away by Cervantes.

Hayes had a chance to make things tougher for the Crusaders, but he missed two free throws only for the ball to go back at his hands.

Hayes once again missed both his charities off another foul, but Aris Dionisio collared the offensive board that finally sealed the win for Manila.

Dionisio finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, two blocks, and one steal for the Stars, which is now at 16-3.

Cervantes added 15 markers, nine boards, four dimes, one block, and one steal.

Marco Balagtas put up 17 points, eight caroms, one assist, and two swats for the Crusaders, which fell to 5-14. (PNA)