By Adrian Stewart Co
All-Star Bacolod Baller kissed its playoffs hopes adieu after an 86-61 defeat to Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Ballers ended its Pool D assignment with 3-2 win-loss slate ending their hopes of advancing to the knockout quarterfinals round slated on Tuesday.
With the trio of Rudy Lingganay, Justin Arana and Ryan Costelo leading the charge, Pasig-Sta. Lucia raced to a 20-9 start in the opening quarter and never looked back.
The Realtors’ lead went to as high as 28 points at 86-58 after an Erwin Van Pena three-pointer with 39 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Lingganay finished with 16 points, nine coming in the first quarter, to go with four assists, while Jeckster Apinan got a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Realtors.
Arana tallied 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and Ablaza also had 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists for Realtors, which await the second seed of Group C, either San Juan or Nueva Ecija in the quarterfinals.
“Sa tingin ko ‘yung quarterfinals nandiyan na sa amin ‘yun. Paghahandaan na lang namin ‘yung makakalaban namin sa next round,” said Realtors head coach Segundo Dela Cruz.
Arben Dionson was the only double-digit scorer for Bacolod with 10 points. Ichie Altamirano had eight rebounds and seven points while Kraniel Viloria scattered five points, six rebounds, and six assists.
The Ballers, which took over as the Bacolod City-based MPBL squad, remained thankful with the experience and learnings they gained in the 13-day competition.
“Proud of you guys, still! We’ve been this far though we only have a very short preparation time but you’ve exceeded the expectations,” Bacolod team manager Leo Bat-og wrote on his Facebook page.
“We lost to a very experienced team in Pasig and hope with this damu na kita sang na learn and we’ll continue to work harder in the future,” he added.
PASIG 86 – Lingganay 16, Apinan 14, Ablaza 13, Arana 13, Yu 7, Costelo 7, Bautista 7, Teng 3, Mina 3, Pena 3, Chan 0.
BACOLOD – Dionson 10, Baiquin 9, Gonzales 8, Altamirano 7, Caino 7, Viloria 5, Guillen 4, Pastias 3, Montuano 3, Tulipas 2, Soriano 2, Colonia 1.
Quarterscores: 27-13, 44-25. 64-46, 86-61./ASC, WDJ