The Manila Stars narrowly escaped what could have been a comeback for the ages, as they fended off the pesky attack of the Valenzuela Classic Idol-Cheesedog, 89-84, in the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Anta Datu Cup.
Dependable stretch-forward Reil Cervantes shined the brightest for the country’s capital, dropping 24 points and 4 boards and took home the Best Player of the Game honors.
For the second straight game, the Stars once again enjoyed a big lead for majority of the game, only to play lax and uninspired basketball in the final canto.
Manila, backed by Robust Energy Capsule, led comfortably at the half 46-26, after shooting 45 percent from the field. Their defense also got the job done, forcing their counterparts to hit only 25 percent of their field goal attempts.
But the Chris Gavina-mentored squad flipped the script in the third period, outscoring the Stars 30-14, spearheaded by Henry Ford Ruaya’s 20 markers.
Learning from the mistakes in their last game against the Makati Skyscrapers – where Manila led as much as 16 points only to lose by a point – the Stars kept their composure in the fourth and would spark a 15-2 run to avoid yet another late-game meltdown.
—Three-point shooting was key for the Stars’ victory last night, as the team knocked down 10 shots from deep with 6 of those coming from Cervantes. The former Blackwater Elite forward only missed one out of his 7 attempts from behind the arc.
—Aside from Cervantes, only Aris Dionisio scored in double-figures for Manila, finishing the game with 13 markers to go along with 13 big rebounds. Marvin Hayes, Jhygruz Laude, and Adrian Celada, pitched in 9, 9, and 7 points, respectively.
—Valenzuela’s bench outscored Manila 60-35, and even had more second-chance points at 25-18. The Stars also turned the ball over 22 times, contrary to the Classic’s 15.
—Paolo Hubalde had a solid showing of 13 points and 10 dimes for Valenzuela in 32 minutes of action.
—The Classic was able to cut the margin to as low as two points, 62-60, early in the fourth quarter. The team, however, was unable to take the lead after the Stars made a run of their own.
—Valenzuela also had several missed opportunities at the foul line, going for 19-33 as a team.
—The Stars will face the Cebu Sharks next at the Cuneta Astrodome on July 24, while Valenzuela will look to bounce back against the Batangas City Athletics at the Caloocan Sports Complex on July 21.