ARIS Dionisio rose to the occasion for Manila as it opened its Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) campaign with a thrilling 89-82 home win over Bataan on Saturday at the San Andres Gym in Manila.
Playing in a team full of ex-pros and scorers, it was the young Dionisio who shone brightest as he finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, three shot blocks, and two steals to lead the Stars in the battle of early favorites in the tournament.
Dionisio capped off his performance with a breakaway lay-up with 15 seconds to go to give the home team an 87-82 lead and eventually seal the game for good.
"Naglaro lang kami ng tama. Kailangan namin depensehan shooters nila. Karamihan sa kanila tumitira so hirap talaga kami," said Manila head coach Philip Cezar.
"Outrebounded rin kami, malalaki sila but still yung aming mga offensive player bumuhay," he added.
Adrian Celada added 18 points as Reil Cervantes added 15 points. Marvin Hayes had 13 as Roger Yap had 11 assists to go along seven points and four steals.
Byron Villarias paced the Risers with 17, Pamboy Raymundo finished with 14 as Alfred Batino added 13 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.
MANILA 89 – Dionisio 21, Celada 18, Cervantes 15, Hayes 13, Yap 7, Sabellina 6, Bitoon 4, Rodriguez 3, Lopez 2, Laude 0, Cruz 0
BATAAN 82 – Villarias 17, Raymundo 14, Batino 13, Alejandro 12, David 7, Grospe 6, Inigo 6, Celiz 6, Tolentino 1, Dagangon 0, Faundo 0
Quarterscores: 19-20,42-42, 69-64, 89-82