DAVAO CITY – Gab Banal and Mark Yee, two players hotly contesting the MVP award of the MPBL Datu Cup, led their respective teams to big wins on Thursday night at the Rizal Memorial College Gymnasium.
MVP frontrunner Banal knocked in 21 of his 31 points in the first half before Mark Montuano and the rest of the Bacoor Strikers stepped up in a 90-80 win over General Santos City at the start of their best-of-three quarterfinals series.
Montuano scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half and picked up from where Banal left off.
But there were several unsung heroes who played key roles in the Strikers’ latest win, among them youngsters King Destacamento and Eric Acuna.
Destacamento, a 6-foot-5 center picked up by the squad after being discarded by Laguna, provided the inside presence needed by the Strikers after releasing top big man Leo de Vera.
The reed-thin Destacamento also swatted away five shots for the Strikers, who can wrap up the series with a victory at the Warriors’ home court in Lagay Gymnasium in General Santos City on Saturday.
While Banal was in full control for Bacoor, Yee was doing the same for Davao Occidental, which hammered out an 82-67 triumph over the Cebu Sharks in the other game.
Yee picked up his 14th double-double performance as he finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Bonbon Custodio added 18 markers while Leo Najorda and comebacking Billy Robles tallied 11 apiece for the Tigers, who held the Sharks to just 33-percent shooting from the field (27-of-81).
Yee’s 14th double-double was the most picked up by any player this season.
Cebu badly missed the services of injured gunner Patrick Cabahug.