The Steel, Basilan’s first ever team sport in a major event, made the entire province proud as its MPBL squad notched its first win in the Datu Cup via an 86-76 win over fellow southern squad Cebu City Sharks late Thursday night at the Strike Gymnasium here.
Ex-PBA frontliner Dennis Daa knocked in 25 points, including four in the crucial stretch that propelled Basilan to its first win in three games in the fastest growing regional amateur basketball league put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
Daa had a tough fall away jumper and two free throws inside the final two-minute mark while Macky Acosta had a triple and a lay up in that backbreaking stretch as the duo touched off a big endgame run by the Steel.
The loss was the third in a row for the Casino Ethyl Alcohol-backed Sharks, who paraded with a new coach in Ting Manalili.
“I hope we made the entire province of Basilan proud,” said Steel mentor Joseph Romarate. “This is a good way for us to show the good side of Basilan. It’s time to change the image of the province in a good way. We can show to them that we can be winners and we proved it in our first MPBL win.”
Basilan is coming off a heart breaking loss at the hands of the Valenzuela Classic-CDO Idol Cheesedog, but the team from Mindanao was able to bounce back strong.
In the second game, Bulacan survived a late rally by home team Bacoor to escape with a 77-76 win.
JR Taganas posted his sixth career double-double performance, allowing the Mighty Sports-backed Kuyas to vent their ire on the Strikers. The undersized center Taganas finished with 14 points and 11 boards.
The Kuyas squandered a 16-point lead in the third period and saw their rivals came to within striking distance, 68-66, behind a 17-2 run by the Strikers.