The Imus Bandera survived Marikina, 72-71, in a tense battle on Wednesday night in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) elims match at the Marist School Gymnasium.
Mark Anthony Guillen was the high point man for both teams with 20 points across his name. He also took down eight boards and was 10-of-14 from the field. John Paul Manansala came off the bench and produced 11 points, four rebounds, and a couple of steals.
Struggling all game long, Ian Melencio’s scored on a putback with 14 seconds left that served as a dagger for home team Marikina. It was the first win in three games for the Bandera, the same record with their victim.
It was a game of halves as the hometeam took control of the opening half. They had a 10-point lead at the break. But the persistent Bandera kept charging and their efforts were rewarded at the end of the third canto where they took a 53-52 lead.
Erwin Sta. Maria led the Shoemasters with 17 markers, nine rebounds, and a pair of assists. Unfortunately, he missed the game winner from point blank range with two seconds left in the game. Ronald Roy contributed 11 points, three rebounds, and two assists for the Shoemasters who are missing the services of celebrity baller Gerald Anderson.
Marikina is looking to bounce back against the Zamboanga Valientes on July 14, while the Bandera will be facing the Quezon City Capitals on the 17th.
– With the game winner under his belt, this should be a confidence booster that Ian Melencio has been looking for this season. After averaging 15.89 ppg last season, his production had a steep dive – he is now averaging 8.5 ppg.
– The Imus Bandera took control of the paint, outscoring the Shoemasters, 44-34, while protecting the area with five blocks, two of those came from Andre Paras, who had shown his defensive prowess, probably an aspect he could work on in the coming days.
– Jerwin Gaco might have blanked out in this game (0 points, 0/3 from the field) but it cannot be denied that he is still a crowd favorite wherever he plays.
– The bench of the Bandera was one of the biggest factors in this win. They have contributed 53 out of their 72 points. The Shoemasters’ bench support chipped in 35 points.
– The MPBL has been bringing the games closer to the fans and the fans have been reciprocated this by going the games and filling up the venues. As with other venues, improved ventilation is a necessity.