Muntinlupa stays alive in MPBL Finals after escaping Batangas in Game 3
Pari Llagas made sure Muntinlupa and Batangas will meet again in the middle of the Muntinlupa Sports Complex on Thursday
Of course, a change of scenery was all Muntinlupa needed to come to life in the Finals of the inaugural Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Anta Rajah Cup.
Buoyed by their loud and proud faithful inside the Muntinlupa Sports Complex, the Cagers held on for a much-needed 82-77 triumph over heavily favored Batangas on Tuesday.
Allan Mangahas fronted the all-out attack with 23 points on top of eight assists and was flanked by Pari Llagas who had 19 markers, six rebounds, five dimes, and two steals.
It was also Llagas, along with Dave Moralde, who stood strong in the last 49 seconds to tame their opponents’ uprising and tow the home team to cutting their series deficit to just 1-2 in the best-of-five championship round.
At the wrong end of convincing victories by the Athletics in Games 1 and 2, the determination was very much evident for Muntinlupa from the get-go as they scored 12 unanswered points to start this matchup and saw it balloon to a 19-3 lead.
Mangahas stayed hot from that point and they looked like they were breezing towards a season-saving win as they were still up by 11, 77-66, with four minutes remaining.
Bong Quinto and Paul Varilla weren’t going away that easy, though, and shot the visitors to just down by two, 75-77, with under a minute left.
They wouldn’t be able to come any closer, however, as Llagas and Moralde hit back-to-back difficult shots to put the game away for good.
Moralde wound up with 10 points and Chito Jaime chipped in 10 markers of his own for the Cagers who may now boast of being the only team to have downed Batangas in the playoffs.
They try, and need to, do it once more in Game 4 on Thursday still at the same venue.
For the Athletics, Quinto topped the scoring column with 14 points while Lester Alvarez and Varilla also added 13 and 11 markers, respectively.
Despite the loss, they remain in the lead in the Finals series and remain the favorites to take home the first-ever MPBL championship.
MUNTINLUPA 82 – Mangahas 23, Llagas 19, Jaime 10, Moralde 10, Apreku 8, Reverente 7, Ylagan 0, Stevens 0, Vergara 0, Buenaflor 0, Salaveria 0
BATANGAS 77 – Quinto 14, Alvarez 13, Eguilos 12, Varilla 11, Olayon 8, Grimaldo 6, Rogado 5, Teodoro 3, Acuna 3, Santos 2, Villamor 0
QUARTER SCORES: 27-12, 44- 36, 64- 51, 82- 77
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