UNBEATEN at home, Batangas City will be the odds on favorite when it takes on Muntinlupa at the start of the MPBL-Anta Rajah Cup best-of-five finals series at the Batangas City Sports Complex.
Game 1 of the championship showdown will begin at 8 p.m. with the Tanduay-backed Athletics hoping to sustain their perfect home record. Expect the Batangueños to come out in full force to support their squad against the visiting Cagers of Angelis Resort, who entered the finals the hard way, needing to beat the Parañaque Patriots-Gamboa Coffee two in a row to reach the hill.
Head coach Mac Tan had a bird’s eye view of how Muntinlupa valiantly fought its way from 14 points down in the third period to beat Parañaque in the deciding Game 3 of their semifinals series and the amiable mentor expects the Cagers to still bank on the momentum of their big win.
“Muntinlupa is a different team from the one which we beat the last time around and we’ve seen them playing great basketball, showing a lot of character in their last win over Parañaque,” Tan said.
Bannered by ex-San Mig Coffee players Val Acuña and Lester Alvarez, the Athletics also have a solid support crew playing different positions – center Jhaymo Eguilos, forwards Paul Varilla and Bong Quinto, and the ultimate sixth man guard Teytey Teodoro.
The Cagers, on the other hand, are usually dependent on ex-pros Chito Jaime and Allan Mangahas as well as hardworking frontliner Felix Apreku when it comes to offense, but they need another big game from Dhon Reverente, who turned out to be a revelation in their series-clinching win over the Patriots in this event put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with former PBA MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
Fatigue will also be a big factor in the series, although Muntinlupa coach Aldrin Morante wants his team not to take a break for now.
“Mas maganda nga kung tuluy-tuloy lang. Para hindi napapadit yung momentum. Tsaka na tayo magpahinga pagkatapos ng championship,” added Morante.