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MPBL South Playoffs finally set

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MANILA — The first-round match-ups of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup Southern Division Playoffs are now set after the results of a triple-header, which was technically reduced to a doubleheader, in the final day of the regular season at the Batangas City Sports Center on Monday night.

Imus Bandera zoomed to the seventh seed after drubbing Mandaluyong El Tigre, 107-90. Batangas City Athletics set up a quarterfinal date with Imus, with a 92-86 home victory against the GenSan Warriors. The Warriors will face Bacoor City in their own playoff series after the Parañaque Patriots opted to forego their ordered rematch.

Led by JP Sarao’s 22-point output, the Bandera repulsed El Tigre from tipoff until the end to overtake the Cebu City Sharks for seventh place via the winner-over-the-other rule.

He also had seven rebounds, one assist, and one block for Imus, which barely made the playoffs after the Biñan Heroes and Parañaque Patriots sputtered in the end.

Wilson Baltazar added 17 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.

The result means Cebu City will now have to travel to Mindanao to take on Davao Occidental in the playoffs.

Jojo Cunanan made 22 markers, four boards, five dimes, and one swat for Mandaluyong, which finished what has been an up-and-down season at 8-17.

In the main game, the Athletics blitzed to the second seed after going on a 10-2 run to break a 73-all tie and held off the gritty Warriors down the stretch.

Jeff Viernes put up 21 points, three rebounds, six assists, and one steal off the bench for Batangas City, which owns the tiebreaker over Muntinlupa, thanks to its 82-71 win.

Jhaymo Eguilos chipped in 18 markers, six boards, four dimes, and two blocks.

John Orbeta and Chris Masaglang each put up 14 markers for GenSan, which will be staying as the fourth seed in the South after missing out on a chance to go third.

On the other hand, the supposed rematch between the Bacoor City Strikers and the Patriots was called off after the Patriots, whose win was nullified due to a crucial officiating error, failed to show up, giving the Strikers the forfeiture win.

The result gave Bacoor City the fifth seed and a playoff date with GenSan in Mindanao.

In effect, Zamboanga slipped to the sixth seed and will take on third-seeded Muntinlupa.

The post-season opens at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga on Tuesday night with Manila taking on Bulacan at 7 p.m. and Bataan hosting Caloocan at 9 p.m. (PNA)