IN a battle between the only two remaining unbeaten teams, Mandaluyong relied on the troika of Cyrus Tabi, Sandy Ceñal, and Joseph Gabayni to turn back Las Piñas, 79-68, and moved one win away from topping the South Division and grabbing an outright semis berth in the Metro Basketball Tournament (MBT) seniors competition at the Hagonoy gym in Taguig.
Tabi, a mainstay of Rizal Technological University, scattered 24 points on a 9-of-13 shooting in 33 minutes to power the Tigers to their fifth straight win and the top spot in the South.
Ceñal added 21 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists while Gabayni contributed 16 points and eight rebounds for Mandaluyong of coach Johnedel Cardel and assistant coach Albert Olaya whose team automatically became the top seed in the South Division playoffs with another win against Pateros, 99-90, at the close of the classification phase in Parañaque on Thursday.
Edgar Louie Charcos finished with 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists, and Kim Cyril Aurin added 19 points and seven rebounds for Las Piñas, which dropped to 4-1 in the tournament organized by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), as part of President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign through sports.
Despite the loss, the Defenders still salvaged the No. 2 spot and a twice-to-beat advantage in the South Division quarterfinals after downing Parañaque, 84-76, also on Thursday.
Tabi, Ceñal, and Gabayni alternated at the firing end as the Tigers outscored the Home Defenders, 25-11, in the third quarter to take a 10-point lead, 51-41, from 26-30 deficit at halftime.
Mandaluyong's cause was also greatly helped by its respectable 52 percent shooting ( 34-of-65) compared to Las Piñas' 42 percent (29-of-68).
The Tigers also had more rebounds, 41-33, and more assists, 23-15, in the event which has “Mobile App ng Bayan” Barangay 143 as co-presentor, Synergy 88 as main sponsors and my|phone “Bida ang Pinoy” as official mobile phone and Spalding as official ball.
In the second game, MMDA outsteadied Taguig, 79-75, to close out the classification phase with a 3-3 record in the tournament which is also sponsored by San Miguel Corp., World Balance, Higer Bus and supported by Excellent Noodles, Nature’s Spring Water, 1-Pacman Partylist, Hopewell Sales Corp., Star Bread, Frabelle Foods, Regan Industrial Sales, Inc., Glitter.ph, Alcoplus and Archie’s Bespoke Bar + Grill.
MMDA drew big games from Emmanuel John Afuang (24 points), Dan Natividad (18 points, 13 assists, six rebounds) and Ronnie Mayuyo (10 points, 11 rebounds) to beat Taguig.
Miguel Gabriel Ramos paced Taguig with 19 points and 12 rebounds, followed by Paulo Miguel Cambaya and Vehnjamin Joseph Maximo with 15 points apiece.
The playoffs of this 24-and-under tourney begin with the Norh Division quarterfinals this Sunday at the San Juan Gym.
Mandaluyong (79) - Tabi 24, Ceñal 21, Gabayni 16, Señires 6, Liquinan 6, Boholano Jr. 4, Reyes 2, Calapine 0
Las Piñas (68) - Charcos 28, Aurin 19, Peralta 7, Tiburcio 6, Bantayan 4, Salvador 2, Tongco 2, Rante 0.
Quarterscores: 16-15, 26-30, 51-41, 79-68.
MMDA (79) - Afuang 24, Natividad 18, Mayuyo 10, Gatchalian 8, Morales 7, Larosa II 6, Ormillo 6, Jalandoni 0.
Taguig (75) - Ramos 19, Maximo 15, Cambaya 15, Orodio 13, Dela Virgen 5, Caduada 3, Relatado 3, Cabanilla 2, Sarmiento 0.
Quarterscores: 16-26, 36-44, 57-56, 79-75.