The Manila Stars had to scramble for a win on Monday night in the MPBL Lakan Season, but the league powerhouse was still able to get the job done against the Valenzuela Classic, 71-66, at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Seven straight free throws in the last 40 seconds allowed the Stars to extend their string of victories to seven games in this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
A jumper by Kido Cabrera put the Classic ahead, 65-64, with 40 seconds to go as a struggling Valenzuela team poised to end its long losing skid.
Aris Dionisio, Chris Bitoon and Gabby Espinas combined forces in the ensuing plays, scoring seven points from the charity stripes and in between, making crucial stops to extend the Classic’s misery.
Valenzuela lost for the seventh straight time, with two consecutive losses under new head coach Ronjay Enrile. The team dropped to a 4-8 win-loss record.
Manila improved to 9-1 and solidified its hold of solo second place.
Bitoon led Manila with 15 points, while Dionisio had a double-double showing of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Carlo Lastimosa chipped in 12 markers for the Stars who grabbed 47 rebounds, eight more than their rivals.