BATANGAS CITY — No matter how difficult it is, there’s no place like home for the Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay in the MPBL-Anta Rajah Cup.

The Athletics struggled in the early goings but recovered their usual deadly form in the second half before fashioning out an 86-75 triumph over the Caloocan Supremos-Longrich at the Batangas City Coliseum late Tuesday night.

Getting a tongue lasher from head coach Mac Tan during half time for taking the Supremos lightly, the Athletics responded by outscoring their rivals, 26-17, in the third period.

Teytey Teodoro and Mark Olayon combined in that big third-quarter run, combining for 14 of the team’s total output in the third period.

Jhaymo Eguilos capped the Athletics’ 11-2 run in the third period with an alley-oop play in the 6:37 mark to give Batangas City its first sizeable lead, 52-38, and the team was never seriously threatened on its way to finishing its record with a tournament best 8-1 card.

The Athletics will move to the quarterfinal round of this event, put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with former PBA MVP Kenneth Duremdes as commissioner, carrying a home court advantage. They have won all their three games at home in the elimination round, but all those victories were tightly fought matches.

In the first game, Muntinlupa got back on winning track after pulling off an 87-78 triumph over Bataan.

Chito Jaime continued his string of double-digit outputs for the Angelis Resort-backed Cagers, who now forged a four-way tie for second to fifth places with the Valenzuela Classic-Yulz, Bulacan Kuyas-Ligo Sardines and Quezon City Capitals-Royal Manila with the same 5-3 win-loss record. — Rey Joble