(Muntinlupa Sports Complex)
8 p.m. – Muntinlupa vs Batangas City
On the verge of bagging the inaugural MPBL-Anta Rajah Cup, Batangas City will look to close out their best-of-five championship series in Game 3 on Tuesday against a Muntinlupa team that is already on the ropes.
The Tanduay-backed Athletics will battle the Angelis Resort-supported Cagers beginning 8 p.m. at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex in front of a crowd that’s expected to be boisterous.
A win by the Athletics could make them the first champion of the fastest-growing regional basketball league in the country, which was put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao and is headed by former PBA Most Valuable Player and commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.
The Cagers fell short twice in Batangas City and have now found themselves in a situation where they must win three consecutive games to steal the title. But if there’s one thing Muntinlupa should remember, it’s that it has the crowd where they drew their strength all season long to keep their campaign going.
They’re no stranger to comebacks, anyway, as the Cagers found themselves in a similar situation in the semifinals where they needed to win twice at home to book a ticket to the finals.
However, they cannot afford to fall behind early again against a powerhouse Atletics squad that boasts ex-pros like Val Acuña, Lester Alvarez and Jhaymo Eguilos and is flanked by reliable reliever Teytey Teodoro and forwards Bong Quinto and Paul Varilla.
Muntinlupa will also need to get consistent games from their own former PBA players in Chito Jaime, Allan Mangahas, forwards Pari Llagas and Felix Apreku and swingman Dhon Reverente.
Free throws are also an area that needs to be improved for the Cagers, who only shot 47 percent from the foul line in the last game.
Batangas City, on the other hand, has a different mindset and for Eguilos, Athletics’ reliable center, winning one from Muntinlupa in its home turf would be the sweetest vindication.
A two-time champion back in the defunct Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League, the 6-foot-5 slotman could add the MPBL crown to his growing list of championship collections.
“Para kasi sa akin masakit yun as a player na makuhaan ka ng panalo sa homecourt. Gusto kong manalo sa homecourt nila para rin mag-champion na yung team namin,” said Eguilos.