By Rey Joble
BALIWAG, BULACAN — Makati put the pressure on Basilan all game long and was successful in cutting down to size its rival on its way to a 77-65 win in the MPBL Datu Cup at the Baliwag Star Arena here Tuesday night.
Former PBA player Philip Paniamogan knocked in 19 points to lead three other Skyscrapers finishing in double figures, but it was their pesky pressure defense which proved to be the big difference. Basilan turned the ball over 34 times, obviously being bothered by the run, jump, and switch pressing defense of Makati.
“It’s a system that I’ve been doing ever since. Players are still players in any kind of level,” said Makati head coach Cholo Villanueva. “My women’s team, my men’s team and my semi-pro team, they run the same system. They’re all basketball players. Pare-pareho lang yan,”
As Makati was busy making things difficult for Basilan at the defensive end, the Skyscrapers were able to pick up 38 points coming off turnovers. That allowed the Skyscrapers to build their biggest lead at 65-50 midway the final period.
Backing up Paniamogan in the scoring charts was Cedric Ablaza, the hardworking forward, who contributed 18 markers on top of grabbing seven rebounds. Ex-pros Rudy Lingganay and former La Salle stalwart James Mangahas chipped in 11 apiece.
Despite being relatively smaller, Makati battled Basilan on even terms in the rebounding department as both teams grabbed 42 boards.
Makati, which employs a fast-pace game to supplement its pressing defense, also got more production from its bench. The relievers of the Skyscrapers contributed 41 points to only 15 made by the Steel.
“If you’re going to look at our team hindi naman kami yung very tall team,” added Villanueva. “Our strength will be our youth and our fitness. If we don’t utilize that, mahihirapan kami sa teams playing half court sets.”