MPBL: Batangas, Imus arrange playoff duel

BATANGAS CITY — Inaugural staging champion Batangas City and Imus pulled off contrasting wins and in the process set up a playoff duel in the MPBL Datu Cup even as Bacoor secured the No. 5 seat without breaking out a sweat.

On Monday night at the Batangas City Coliseum, the Tanduay-backed Athletics and the GLC Truck and Equipment-sponsored Bandera took care of business by disposing of their rivals.

Batangas City counted on old reliables Jeff Viernes, Jhaymo Eguillos and Denice Villamor in outlasting General Santos City, 92-86.

Viernes, the spitfire guard added by the Athletics this season, came away with 21 points and six assists while Eguilos, last season’s Finals MVP, had 18 points on top of six rebounds. Villamor, a stretched four contributor, added 16 markers on a steady 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.

The three conspired in a telling 10-2 run that shattered the game’s final deadlock, 73-all, and allowed Batangas City to take an 83-75 lead entering the final two-minute mark.

General Santos City, which dropped to fourth place to play the Bacoor Strikers in the playoffs of the southern division of this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner, kept on fighting back before free throws from Viernes, Lester Alvarez and Villamor sealed the outcome for the Athletics.

The Athletics wound up in a tie with the Muntinlupa Cagers, both of them wrapping up their elims campaign with a 15-10 card, but by virtue of the win over the other rule, Batangas City will take the No. 2 seat to play Imus, which also ended up in a similar situation.

Imus capped its elims campaign with an easy 107-90 triumph over the already ousted Mandaluyong team.

Following its victory, the Bandera wound up in a tie for seventh to eighth places with the Cebu Sharks-Casino Ethyl Alcohol, but since the former defeated the latter in the early phase of the elimination round, Imus will take the No. 7 spot of the southern division of this tournament also supported by LGR, the official outfitter of the MPBL.

Bacoor took the fifth spot of the southern division of the south after winning via forfeiture over Parañaque.