BATANGAS City kept alive its bid for back-to-back MPBL titles, eliminating Zamboanga, 80-72, in their semifinal decider in the Raja Cup on Tuesday night at the Batangas Sports Arena.
The Athletics, winners of Datu Cup, advanced to the best-of-three southern division finals against the Davao Occidental Tigers.
Last season’s MVP Val Acuna knocked in nine of his 17 points in the third period before Jeff Viernes and Jhaymo Eguilos combined forces in the final quarter as Batangas overcame repeated rallies by Zamboanga.
Viernes was just short of a double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down nine rebounds.
Eguilos scored added 13 while Adrian Santos had 10 points and nine rebounds.
“Ang sabi ko sa mga players ko, sundin lang natin yung Sistema and if ever man matalo tayo, matatalo tayo sa mga kamay ko,” added Batangas City coach Mac Tan, who is looking to give the Athletics their second straight championship.
Tigers, the south top seed, swept the Bacoor Strikers in the other semifinal series.