Opposing guards Gab Banal and Denok Miranda went blow for blow in the fourth quarter, but it was the former who escaped with the victory in the bag.
Inspired by the frenetic energy of their hometown fans inside the Strike Gymnasium, the Bacoor City Strikers traded basket after basket with the visiting Laguna Heroes Krah and managed to escape with yet another nail-biter of a victory, 91-86, in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) on Tuesday night.
The game was closely contested from the opening tip, but the Heroes squad – led by a herculean effort of their gutsy playmaker Miranda – held the lead in the first three quarters of play.
The Lopez, Quezon- native poured an MPBL career-high 29 points on 10-19 shooting from the field and made four out of 8 baskets from deep. But Banal and the rest of Strikers took control of the game when it mattered the most, outscoring the visitors 26-19 in the final canto.
Banal finished with an impressive stat line of his own, tallying a double-double of 25 points and 12 boards, to along with 6 assists in 32 minutes of action. The 6’3 playmaker stamped his imprint in the final 10 minutes of the game, helping his team in every way he can on both ends of the floor.
With the game tied at 85 with only a minute and a half before the end of regulation, Bacoor finally managed to secure the lead by way of Leo De Vera’s four consecutive makes from the free-throw line. The hardworking big man posted 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Mark Montuano and Chris Sumalinog had stellar showings as well, posting 20 and 15 markers, respectively.
Laguna was still in striking distance with 35 seconds left, but an ill-advised three-point attempt from Ryan Buenafe killed their chances in the end.
Best Player of the Game Banal showed his appreciation for their raucous fans who served as their 6th man for the entire 40 minutes.
“We wanted to give back to Bacoor. Nakakahiya naman kung hindi naming ibibigay yung 100 percent namin. The crowd is our motivation here,” he said post game to courtside reporter Nikki Viola.
Laguna, meanwhile, broke the record for most three-point shots made in an MPBL game with 13. But their drastic slide down the rankings continues, losing their third straight contest en route to a 2-4 record. Bacoor, on the other hand, stretched their winning streak to three and is now one of the hottest teams in the league with a 4-2 slate.
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