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Manila clinches MPBL North Finals spot after upset vs. Bataan

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MANILA — The Manila Stars claimed the third seat in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) semifinals after stunning the Bataan Risers, 56-51, in Game 3 of their Northern Division Semifinals at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga on Monday night.

Reil Cervantes proved pivotal in the clutch, connecting on back-to-back triples to cap a game-turning 14-3 run to take a 54-47 lead by the Stars before converting on a dagger putback with 25 seconds left when the Risers tried to steal the win.

Cervantes, who was 0-for-4 from the deep prior to his crucial treys, finished with 20 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal for Manila, which will play against the San Juan Knights in the Northern Division Finals at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City beginning Wednesday night.

Byron Villarias put up 12 points, nine boards, three dimes, and one steal off the bench for Bataan, which was shown the door despite finishing the elimination round with the best record at 23-2.

The last spot in the Final Four will be decided on Tuesday night when Batangas City will host Zamboanga in Game 3 of their Southern Division semifinals at the Batangas City Sports Center. (PNA)