MPBL: Manila asserts mastery over Pampanga behind dynamic duo Dionisio, Bitoon

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BIÑAN — The Manila Stars outran and outgunned the Pampanga Giant Lanterns to score a dominating 92-76 triumph in the MPBL Lakan Season at the Alonte Sports Arena here Friday night.

Dionisio came away with another double-double performance, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks as he imposed his will on the interior defense.

His long-time teammate, Chris Bitoon, led the way with 18 points and anchored the Frontrow-backed Stars’ fluid transition game.

With Bitoon sprinting down on offense, the Stars were able to get 34 points on fastbreaks, 22 more than their rivals.

Manila also produced more points from its bench players, 39, compared to only 26 for Pampanga.

Outside of Dionisio and Bitoon, Manila also got a huge contribution from Carlo Lastimosa, who came off the bench and ended with a double-double performance of 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Marvin Hayes also chipped in 10 in a display of balance firepower for Manila.

The Stars proved to be too much against the Giant Lanterns.

Manila worked extra hard in crashing the boards, allowing the team to pull down 53 rebounds, 14 more than Pampanga. As a team, the Stars played a lot better, dishing out 32 assists. more than half than their rivals who only had 15.

Following its latest win, Manila improved its win-loss record to 5-1 to move up to second place, just half a game behind tournament leader San Juan, the only unbeaten team so far after five games.

Pampanga absorbed its third loss in six games.

So dominant was Manila, which led by as many as 27, 66-39, at one turn.

The Stars put a premium on defense right from the get-go as they held their rivals to just a lone field goal in a nine-minute stretch bridging the first and second periods.

That resulted to a backbreaking 24-3 run, allowing the Stars to pull away, 37-15, capped by Johnny Laude’s triple, 5:32 left in the second frame and Manila was never seriously threatened from there.

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