Zamboanga and Batangas City were the last teams to punch tickets to the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) divisional semifinals after prevailing in their respective Game 3s in the last day of the first round at the Batangas City Sports Center on Monday night.
The Athletics zapped the Imus Bandera at home, 92-65, while the Rapidos stunned the Muntinlupa Cagers, 87-83.
In the curtain-raiser, sixth-seeded Zamboanga lost a 78-71 lead with 6:15 left but eventually finished off third-seeded Muntinlupa with a 5-0 rally in the last 35 seconds of the game.
Joseph Nalos led the Rapidos with 19 points, two rebounds, 10 assists, and one steal, while Ivan Villanueva had his own double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds with three assists, as well as Harold Arboleda, who finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds with four dimes.
Dhon Reverente put up 14 markers, four boards, three dimes, and three interceptions for Muntinlupa.
In the main game, Batangas City was too much for Imus in the rebounding game with a 55-27 difference, and the former gradually pulled away from its visitor to the delight of its sold-out crowd.
Jeff Viernes fired 18 points, five rebounds, one assist, and two steals for the Athletics.
James Castro made 20 markers, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals off the bench for the Bandera.
Both Zamboanga and Batangas City will face each other on Wednesday night in Game 1 of their league quarterfinal series at the Rizal Memorial College Gym in Davao City, preceding the other Southern Division semifinal battle between Davao Occidental and Bacoor City.
The quarterfinals will begin on Tuesday night as San Juan takes on Quezon City and Bataan hosts Manila in Game 1 of the Northern Division semifinals at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga. (PNA)
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