MPBL: MVP favorites lead teams to victory

DAVAO CITY – Gab Banal and Mark Yee, two players hotly contesting the MVP derby of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup, made their presence felt anew to lead their respective teams late Thursday night.

The two presided in their teams’ wins here at the Rizal Memorial College Gymnasium.

Banal, the frontrunner for the derby, knocked in 21 of his 31 points in the first half before Mark Montuano and the rest of the Bacoor Strikers stepped up in pulling off a 90-80 triumph over General Santos City at the start of their best-of-three quarterfinals series.

Montuano scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half and picked up from where Banal left off.

But there were several unsung heroes who played key roles in the Strikers’ latest win, among them include young players King Destacamento and Eric Acuna.

Destacamento, a 6-foot-5 young center, who was picked up by the squad after being discarded by Laguna, provided the inside presence needed by the Strikers team, which just released its former premier big man Leo de Vera.

The reed thing Destacamento swatted five shots and his inside presence allowed Banal and Montuano to work their way on the offensive end.

Following their latest win, the Strikers moved a win away from wrapping up the series and they intend to do that with a victory right at the Warriors’ home court in Lagay Gymnasium in General Santos City on Saturday.

While Banal was in full control for Bacoor, Yee was doing the same for Davao Occidental, which hammered out an 82-67 triumph over the Cebu Sharks in the other game.

Mark Yee picked up his 14th double-double performance as he finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Bonbon Custodio added 18 markers while Leo Najorda and comebacking Billy Robles tallied 11 apiece for the Tigers, who held the Sharks to just 33-percent shooting from the field (27-of-81).

Yee’s 14th double-double was the most picked up by any player this season. He remains to be one of the top contenders for the MVP derby.

Cebu badly missed the services of injured gunner Patrick Cabahug and that affected the rest of the Sharks.