By JERSON J. SANCHEZ
BATANGAS City — HOME team Batangas Athletics lorded it over Valenzuela in Game 1 of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Anta Rajah Cup semifinals on Thursday at the Batangas City Coliseum.
Paul Varilla scored 17 points and four other teammates joined him in double-digits in an 80-75 decision for home team Athletics over Valenzuela.
Joining Varilla were Val Acuna who contributed 15 points; Bong Quinto who scored 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals; and Lester Alvarez and Jhaymo Eguilos who put in 11 and 10 points, respectively..
The home team played well with a 30-8 start and in all, made good on 11 triples and converted 47 percent of their field goals. Still, they needed to sustain the play to frustrate the Classic who were only down by six with 33 seconds to go.
Batangas would not let them inch closer, though, as a pair of splits from the stripe by Varilla concluded the fight.
Jeff Javillonar dropped a deep three in the remaining seconds, but it proved to be meaningless as it was the Athletics who were celebrating a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three semis series.
This, after they conquered Bataan in the quarterfinals. Now, the top-seed in the tournament is a pristine 3-0 in the first-ever playoffs of the maiden MPBL.
For Valenzuela, Adrian Celada topped the scoring with 23 points.
In the other pairing, seventh-seed Paranaque made an impressive show by routing third-seed Muntinlupa, 84-59. The Cagers were in the game for only the first three minutes, up 4-0, before Paranaque made a 27-4 run that catapulted the Patriots way ahead, 27-8.
Paranaque was coming off an upset of second-seed Bulacan in the quarterfinals and is now one win away from an improbable Finals appearance.
Muntinlupa and Valenzuela will try to trounce each other as they both try to recover in Game 2 on Saturday at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex.|#BALIKAS_News