It was a fourth-quarter-win for the Manila Stars-Robust Energy Capsule against the Bulacan Kuyas for the first game of the best-of-three series with both teams starting their Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup playoff campaign last Tuesday, March 12 at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga.
The score ended at 69-65, with former collegiate star Aris Dionisio receiving the Player of the Game title at 11 points and 17 rebounds. He also contributed four steals and five blocks. Chris Bitoon was the next highest scorer at 10 points for Manila. On the opposing side, former Ateneo Blue Eagle Gwyne Capacio, who was newly recruited by the Kuyas and was only on his third game for Team Bulacan, totalled 23 points and nine rebounds but was not backed up enough by any of his teammates.
On the same day, the top-seeded Bataan Risers used their homecourt advantage, as they blasted the Caloocan Supremos, number eight in the north division, by a total of 20 points. Byron Villarias, Gab Dagangon, and Pamboy Raymundo all provided double-digit scoring for the Coach Jojo Lastimosa-led squad, contributing 18 points, 15 points, and 11 points respectively, but it was Alfred Batino who was acknowledged for his double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, which was accompanied by a strong defensive effort. For Caloocan, Damian Lasco made his mark with 14 points, while Almond Vosotros chipped 13 as he was still facing jetlag from his Thailand Basketball Super League (TBSL) 2019 stint in Bangkok.
The next time the Manila Stars will be facing the Bulacan Kuyas for Game Two of the best-of-three series is on March 20 at the Coach Philip Cezar-led squad’s home court, the San Andres Sports Complex in Malate, where Caloocan will also have a chance to redeem themselves against Bataan on the same day.