By Adrian Stewart Co
All-Star Bacolod Ballers returned to their winning ways in the 2021 Chooks-To-Go MPBL Invitational with a beating of Caloocan Excellence yesterday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Nhomer Gonzales tallied double-double 18 points and 14 rebounds, while Ichie Altamirano and Kraniel Viloria contributed in 13 markers apiece for the Ballers.
The victory served as a bounce back for the Ballers of head coach Alexander Angeles after tasting its first defeat to Iloilo United Royals, 85-62, on Wednesday.
Both teams traded leads in the opening quarter with the Ballers building an 18-15 edge behind Altamirano. The Excellence rallied to take a 20-18 edge before Bacolod knotted the score at 20-all on Jeff Comia hit.
Bacolod started the second quarter with a 21-4 scoring blast behind Gonzales and Altamirano for a 41-24 lead. It grew further to 48-32 at the half after a three-pointer by Kimlee Bayquin.
The Excellence showed some life in the third period as it chopped down Ballers’ lead to 51-61 but Bacolod managed to put some separation heading into the fourth on a Gonzales triple.
The Ballers widened the lead to 67-51 on back-to-back hits by Gonzales and Bayquin to start the fourth quarter but Excellence made its last push at 54-67 on a two-pointer by Damian Lasco.
Bacolod increased the lead to 72-54 with baskets from Mark Guillen and Carl Soriano. Caloocan trimmed it to 59-72 but the Ballers pulled away anew as it reached its largest lead at 22 points.
“I always preach to my players, we may not be the strongest team on paper but we will be giving our best each game,” Angeles said in a post-match interview.
Lasco top-scored with 16 points, Ramon Mabayo added double-double 13 points and 13 rebounds while Pao Javillonar had 14 rebounds and eight points as the Excellence dropped to 1-2.
BACOLOD 85 – Gonzales 18, Altamirano 13, Viloria 13, Bayquin 7, Tulipas 6, Pastias 6, Guillen 6, Comia 5, Soriano 5, Montuano 4, Dionson 2, Dela Cruz 0.
CALOOCAN 65 – Lasco 16, Mabayo 13, Javillonar 8, Peñaredondo 8, Labing-isa 8, Esguerra 8, Matias 3, Gil 1, Rosagas 0, Escobal 0, Sablan 0, Raflores 0.
Quarterscores: 20-20, 48-32, 64-51, 85-65./ASC, WDJ