Manila faced a rusty Batangas City team and quickly made short work of the visiting squad that has been idle for more than three weeks, booking an easy 73-50 triumph late Tuesday night at the San Andres Gym in Manila.
Chris Bitoon and Aris Dionisio, Manila’s 1-2 punch, led a balance attack by the Stars, who posted their fourth win in five games and won two in a row at home.
Bitoon knocked in 20 points and pulled down eight rebounds while outplaying his counterpart, Jeff Viernes, who struggled for 12 on 4-of-12 shooting from the field.
Dionisio, the other half of that fearsome twosome of the Stars, delivered 12 markers on top of eight boards and three blocks as Manila’s overpowering performance was very much evident in its latest win against the groping for form Athletics, who only played their second game after debuting last June 15.
Manila held Batangas to just 28-percent shooting from the field (19-of-66) as the inaugural staging champion just couldn’t get anything from Viernes and co.
“Parang may takip yung ring namin,” said the usually explosive Viernes, the MVP of the MPBL All-Star Game last season.
Earlier, Basilan and General Santos City carved out contrasting victories over their respective rivals.
General Santos City rewarded debuting coach Rich Alvarez an easy 100-76 triumph.
The Steel held off a hard-fighting Marikina Shoemasters before prevailing, 86-83.
Three players wound up with double-double performances for Basilan, which improved its win-loss record to 3-1, good for third place in the southern division of this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
Balucanag played his best game since being traded to Basilan, winding up with 18 points and 10 boards. Bringas, a former Meralco Bolt, ended up with 15 points and 12 boards while Dumapig, a hardworking big man, added 13 points and 13 rebounds as the Steel bounced back from their previous heartbreaking loss to Bulacan.