Games Monday (Bataan People’s Center)
7 p.m. – General Santos vs Manila
9 p.m. – Bataan vs San Juan
BATAAN, San Juan and Manila, three top teams in the MPBL Datu Cup, try to make their move and strengthen their chances in time for the playoffs.
The No.1 seed Risers will take on the No. 2 ranked Knights in the main game at 9 p.m., as fireworks are expected to erupt in the battle between these two top teams in the league put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
Owners of the tournament’s bets record at 14-1, the Zetapro-backed Risers are also on the crest of the longest winning streak in the league at 14. They can extend it further with a win against the Go-For-Gold-supported Knights, who are not far behind with a 14-3 win-loss mark.
More than keeping the streak going against the formidable Knights, winning at home will be given priority by Bataan, coached by PBA legend Jojo Lastimosa. The Risers have not lost a game at home in four tries and winning over a title contender like San Juan will be a lot sweeter for the local folks.
Focus of attention will be the match up between two explosive squads.
Bataan is loaded with experienced and young talents and appeared to have found the right mix. The team has ex-pros Gary David, Pamboy Raymundo, Rob Celiz, and Byron Villarias. Also in the squad are PBA aspirants Jeepy Faundo and Jay Alejandro, and promising players Vince Tolentino and Richard Escoto.
But the Knights have the capability to match up with the Risers man for man as they have several former PBA players, led by former champions Mac Cardona, John Wilson and Larry Rodriguez, and talented players like Mike Ayonayon, CJ Isit and Mike Parala among others.
Just like Bataan and San Juan, Manila is also trying to get into the three-way battle to the top.
Carrying a 13-3 win-loss mark, Manila is not far behind and can move up to solo second spot should Bataan prevail over San Juan. The Stars will take on the General Santos Warriors, an unpredictable team from the Mindanao region, in their 7 p.m. encounter.
The Risers are favored to win over the Warriors as the team is teeming with talent, led by ex-pros Reil Cervantes and Roger Yap, young talents Chris Bitoon and Aris Dionisio and PBA aspirant Kyles Lao.