MANILA -- Bataan nailed an all-important win in the Maharlikla Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Season, edging Navotas, 81-78, at the Valenzuela City Astrodome on Friday night.
The Risers did not start the game well as the Clutch, already out of playoff contention, played spoilers early on with a 24-17 first-quarter lead.
Bataan slowly recovered in the next two quarters and eventually took the lead, 60-56, after the third quarter.
The game remained tight in the fourth quarter, and Navotas even had a chance to force overtime, but Allan Evangelista misfired a potential game-tying attempt from beyond the arc as time expired.
"'Yung mental toughness ng players ko, yun yung pini-preach ko sa kanila kasi kalalaro nga lang the other day. (I’m preaching mental toughness among my players because they had a game only the other day.) Sabi ko (I said) this will be a good test," Bataan head coach Jonas Villanueva said.
EJ Llanto led the Risers, who moved up to 17-10, a half-game behind the Pampanga Giant Lanterns for the fifth seed in the Northern Division and 1.5 games behind the Bulacan Kuyas for the fourth seed, with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds.
Byron Villarias added 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, six rebounds, and one assist.
Jhong Bondoc put up 17 markers, nine boards, and one steal, while Mark Guillen added 16 points, 11 caroms, and two dimes for the Clutch, who fell to 7-20.
Bataan-Camaya Coast: 81 -- Llanto 18, Villarias 16, Castro 14, Batino 9, Jumao-as 7, Juntilla 7, Nalos 4, Iñigo 3, Gozum 2, Bregondo 1, Jaime 0, Ortega 0, Gallardo 0, Cudal 0
Navotas-Unipak Sardines: 78 -- Bondoc 17, Guillen 16, Abdurasad 14, Melegrito 9, Taywan 7, Gonzales 6, Prudente 4, Cabahug 3, Matillano 2, Andaya 0, Evangelista 0, Soriano 0, Bautista 0, Mamaclay 0
Quarterscores: 17-24, 39-40, 60-56, 81-78 (PNA)