BATANGAS City relied on a big second half to whip Valenzuela, 89-64, and march into the championship round of the MPBL-Anta Rajah Cup at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex here.
The Tanduay-backed Athletics unloaded 28 points in the third frame to fend off the rallying Yulz-supported Classic. Five players led by ex-PBA player Val Acuña, finished in double figures for Batangas City.
His long-time teammate, Lester Alvarez, contributed 15 while Bong Quinto added 14, Mon Rogado tallied 12 and Paul Varilla chipped in 10.
For head coach Mac Tan, getting into the finals was all worth it.
“I’m speechless because of the support management has given us, the staff. Credit to the boys and the coaching staff. We did a good job executing our game plan,” Tan told FoxSports.ph. “I’m so happy, I want to cry, but our job is not done yet.”
The Athletics await the winner of the Muntinlupa Cagers-Angelis Resort and Parañaque Patriots-Gamboa Coffee, who are still playing as of press time.
Defense was the biggest story in the second half as the Classic was held to just 10 points in the final frame, allowing the Athletics to turn a close game into a rout.
“I’m confident about our chances of reaching the finals. Everyday, we’ve been working hard. If we have misunderstandings, we communicate. This is a young team, but we’re peaking at the right time. I just hope we can maintain it,” added Tan.
Muntinlupa turned to old reliable Chito Jaime, who knocked in 26 points and powered the Amngelis Resort-backed Cagers to a 66-56 triumph over the Parañaque Patriots-Gamboa Coffee.
A PBA veteran, Jaime started things off in the opening quarter, hitting 11 of his total markers, then finished what he started when he hit eight in the final period, allowing the Cagers to set up a winner- take-all showdown on Tuesday set at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex.