GENERAL SANTOS CITY — For the second straight game, Gab Banal got the help he needed from the supporting cast of the Bacoor Strikers and the result was positive just as expected.
Banal, the MVP front runner, had another double-double performance, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He once again got the support he needed, most notably from Rocky Acidre and King Destacamento, and collectively they carried the Strikers to the MPBL best-of-three quarterfinals series sweep of the General Santos City Warriors late Saturday night at the Lagao Gymnasium here.
In sweeping the southern swing of their playoff series, the Strikers will advance into the Final Four of their division where they will face the Davao Occidental Tigers, who also swept their series against the Cebu Sharks.
“Slowly, it’s showing (the character).” said Bacoor coach Leo Isaac. “And the good thing is, the better character. As we go on playing more games, we get to understand better the system, the players’ decision-making, mannerism. We just hope we can continue on with this right attitude, the team that we want to be.”
Banal kept a hold of his team when needed.
The Strikers were leading for most of the way, but the Warriors were threatening repeatedly. Gen San’s last attempt at a push came inside the final three-minute mark of the third period following a triple from Jorem Morada.
But Banal answered back with back-to-back triples to weather an uprising by the Warriors.
In the fourth period, it was Acidre’s turn to shine.
He hit three straight treys to practically put away the Warriors early in the fourth, then after Banal’s two free throws, Acidre finally broke the backs and the spirits of General Santos City with another three-point shot as the Strikers padded their lead to 20, 88-68, with still 4:42 left.
Things got a little bit rough in the closing stage of the final period as Delmar Mahaling and Daryl Goloran and Roger Malig-on of Bacoor figured in a scuffle during the loose ball struggle.
The three players were thrown out of the game.
Bacoor showed balance production for the second straight game. Mark Montuano contributed 14 markers while Acidre added 12, all coming from beyond the arc. King Destacamento had another solid effort, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds, and six blocks before going out of the game after being hit in the nose by a wayward elbow from Mahaling.