BALANGA — Bataan and Makati subdued their respective rivals on Wednesday night here at the People’s Center and put themselves in good position to secure the home court advantage heading to the playoffs of the MPBL Datu Cup.
Facing an equally formidable foe in Navotas, the Risers of Bataan showed composure down the stretch in outlasting the Clutch, 84-78, to firm up their hold of the solo lead in the tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
The Risers now carry a 17-2 win-loss card, which put them a game and a half ahead of their closest pursuers — the San Juan Knights, the Manila Stars and the Makati Super Crunch, all bunched up in second to fourth spots carrying a 16-4 mark.
The Risers, backed by F2 Logistics, held their rivals scoreless in the last 3:03 mark of the match to finally put away the Clutch, who absorbed their 11th loss in 19 games but remained in seven spot of the tough northern division of the tournament.
In between making stops, the Risers made some key baskets as Yvan Ludovice’s jumper started it all in the 2:26 mark that put his team on top, 80-78.
Both teams had a two-minute dry spell, but in the crucial seconds of the game, Ludovice, Byron Villarias, Pamboy Raymundo and Richard Escoto made the big plays.
Ludovice fed off Villarias for a short stab that gave the Risers an 82-78 lead with 24 seconds left.
The Clutch had several chances along the way but they couldn’t come up with a better execution, seeing veteran Jojo Duncil committing two crucial turnovers, while missing their next offensive thrusts.
Earlier, Makati extended its winning streak to 10 after adding lowly Rizal to its list of victims, 66-55. — Rey Joble