by Jerome Lagunzad
Games Today (Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium)
7 p.m. — Muntinlupa vs Navotas
9 p.m. — Parañaque vs Bulacan
Host Batangas City and Valenzuela carved out contras victories yesterday in moving closer to clinching Final Four berths in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Rajah Cup.
Inspired by the hometown crowd in the Batangas City Coliseum, the top-ranked Athletics downed the eighth seed Bataan Defenders, 88-75, in the opener of their best-of-three quarterfinal series.
Former pro Val Acuña proved he has fully recovered from flu as he drilled in nine of his 16 points in the opening period while Teytey Teodoro, Mon Rogado and Bong Quinto added at least 11 points each.
Sharing the day’s spotlight were the Valenzuela Classic, who fought back from 15 points down in the first half in stunning the Quezon City Capitals, 96-89.
Rocky Acidre finished with 21 points while Adrian Celada and Krentz Carlos added at least 12 points each for the fourth-seeded Valenzuela, which exploded for 58 points in the second half.
Big man Jan Collado had a team-high 19 points while Gian Abrigo hauled down 14 rebounds but the fifth-ranked Quezon City sorely missed the stability from top guard Andoy Estrella who was sidelined by an injury.
Many-time PBA scoring champion Gary David led all scorers with 24 points while James Castro and Al Carlos scored 12 points apiece that all went down the drain with Bataan’s setback.