BATAAN waited nearly a year for a return bout with Manila, the first team which dealt the Risers their first loss in the MPBL Datu Cup.
They meet again on Tuesday at the start of the northern division best-of-three semifinal series at the People’s Center in Balanga, Bataan.
Bataan and Manila clash at 9 p.m. after the opening game of the San Juan-Quezon City series at 7 p.m.
“The real playoffs begins for us this time,” said Bataan head coach Jojo Lastimosa, who still recalls his team’s first ever loss in the tournament at the hands of the Stars. “There were a lot of changes. This is a different Bataan team and they’re also a different Manila team. Both teams have become better as the tournament progresses. This will be our biggest test in the tournament.”
Bataan has point guard Pamboy Raymundo, Gary David, Gab Dagangon, Alfred Batino and Vince Tolentino as the usual starters the past few games, but the Risers have also stacked their bench with Byron Villarias, Yvan Ludovice, Richard Escoto, Bernie Bregondo, Rob Celiz, Achie Iñigo and homegrown Gio Espuelas.
The Stars have Chris Bitoon, Aris Dionisio, ex-pros Roger Yap, Riel Cervantes, Marvin Hayes and Marcy Arellano, frontliners Mark Cruz and McLean Sabellina.