By ADRIAN STEWART CO
Bacolod City of Smiles capped off their 2023 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) season with a 77-71 victory over Parañaque Patriots at the WES Arena in Valenzuela City on Saturday night, September 23.
Homegrown player Domark Matillano led the way with 18 points, including three three-point conversions, to go with four rebounds and four assists as the Bacolodnons ended the season with an 11-17 win-loss slate.
Andretti Stevens, Coy Alves and John Cantimbuhan each ended up with nine markers, while Justin Alano and Mark Sarangay contributed eight points apiece for the City of Smiles.
Bacolod trailed early in the game but quickly turned things around behind three-point conversions from Ryussei Koga and Matillano and inside hits from Sarangay for a 29-18 advantage.
The Bacolodnons went on to widen the lead to 43-25 courtesy of back-to-back hits by Carl Magbanua and a triple by Stevens. The Patriots threatened to rally back but Bacolod answered with connections from Matillano and Sarangay for a 50-29 halftime lead.
Bacolod went on to build its largest lead at 56-35 on two free throws by Alves, but the Patriots went on a huge run behind Joshua Gallano, Philip dela Cruz and AJ Junsay to cut the deficit to 55-63.
Parañaque’s run continued in the fourth quarter as they cut the deficit to 60-63, but Bacolod responded with consecutive baskets from Alves and Cantimbuhan for a 67-60 advantage.
Back-to-back three-point plays by Cantimbuhan and Alano increased Bacolod’s lead further to 75-64 with four minutes left, but the Patriots made their last push at 71-75 on connections by Gallano.
Bacolod created some breathing room with less than a minute left as Cantimbuhan drained two free throws, but the Patriots were unable to come even closer due to the Bacolodnons’ tight defense.
Gallano finished with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, while former Bacolod player Jayboy Solis added 10 markers as the Patriots dropped to an 11-17 slate with still a game left on their schedule.
BACOLOD 77 — Matillano 18, Stevens 9, Alves 9, Cantimbuhan 9, Alano 8, Sarangay 8, Koga 6, Sedillo 5, Magbanua 4, Menguez 1.
PARAÑAQUE 71 — Gallano 19, Solis 10, Umali 9, Junsay 8, Pido 7, Uduba 5, Baclay 3, Singh 3, Dela Cruz 3, Martel 2, Castro 2, Manalang 0.
Quarterscores: 29-18, 50-29, 63-55, 77-71./ASC, WDJ