The Cagers started out like a house on fire, scoring the first 12 points of the contest. The Athletics scored their first point at the 7-minute mark courtesy of a free throw by Paul Varilla.
The Cagers, enjoying the support of the homecourt crowd, never looked back from there and enjoyed leads by as much as 13 points.
Batangas made its move in the fourth quarter, whittling down the lead to as low as 2 points, 79-77, on an and-one play by Varilla with 49 seconds left in the match.
In the next play, Dave Moralde sank a one-hander off an Allan Mangahas pass that eventually ended up as the dagger for the Cagers. Coming off a timeout, Teytey Teodoro found Val Acuna for an open three-pointer but the shot failed to go in. The former UE Red Warrior struggled throughout the game, going 0 for 11 from the field.
Mangahas led the Cagers with 23 points, two rebounds, and nine assists while Llagas finished with 19 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Kier Quinto led Batangas with 14 points, seven rebounds, and 5 assists. Lester Alvarez chipped in 13 points but saw little action in the second half.
Noticeably absent in the production department were Acuna and Teodoro. Both managed to score only 3 points apiece.
Game 4 is set this Thursday, April 19, again at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex with the Cagers seeking to equalize. Should they be successful, game 5 will be played on Saturday at the Batangas City Coliseum.
Muntinlupa (82) – Mangahas 23, Llagas 19, Jaime 10, Moralde 10, Apreku 8, Reverente 7, Ylagan 5, Stevens 0, Vergara 0, Buenaflor 0, Salaveira 0
Batangas (77) – Quinto 14, Alvarez 13, Eguilos 12, Varilla 11, Olayon 8, Grimaldo 6, Rogado 5, Acuna 3, Teodoro 3, Santos 2, Villamor 0
Quarters: 27-14, 44-36, 64-51, 82-77