By Jerome Lagunzad
Games Tuesday (Batangas City Coliseum)
7 p.m. — Valenzuela vs Quezon City
9 p.m. — Bataan vs Batangas City
Pre-season champion Bulacan sustained its hot form at the expense of Bataan, 81-74, on Saturday night to end its 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Rajah Cup elimination campaign on a high note at the Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium.
Stephen Siruma and Jay-R Taganas provided a big lift off the bench, combining for 29 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists and four steals, as the Kuyas used a telling run in the second period as a springboard to pull away from the Defenders.
It was the fifth straight victory and sixth overall in nine matches for Bulacan, which forced a three-way at second spot with Muntinlupa and idle Quezon City. However, the Kuyas earned the No. 2 seed with the highest quotient over their rivals.
Four-time PBA scoring champion Gary David tallied 16 points while while Jay Sierra added 14 points in a losing cause for Bataan, which suffered its seventh setback in nine starts in a tie with Imus.
But the Defenders already secured the eighth and final playoff spot—by virtue of the winner-over-the-other rule—earlier after the Bandera fell prey to the Muntinlupa Cagers, 81-69, in the opening match.
Former Mapua standout Allan Mangahas sizzled with 25 points on top of eight rebounds, six assists and four steals while former pro Chito Jaime added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Muntinlupa, which outplayed Imus in the final period.
The Cagers ended up third overall and forged a best-of-three quarterfinal series against the sixth-ranked Navotas Clutch while the No. 2 Kuyas will enjoy a homecourt advantage against No. 7 Parañaque Patriots in the other pairing.
Meanwhile, Bataan is expected to have their hands full on Tuesday when the Defenders visit the top-seeded Batangas City Athletics at the Batangas City Coliseum at 9 p.m.
The Valenzuela Classic, ranked fourth overall, will duke it out with the No. 5 Quezon City Capitals in the opening match set at 7 p.m.