GenSan weathered Batangas’ repeated assaults to score a 61-55 victory on Saturday and force a Game 3 decider in their battle for the MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season South Division second finals slot at the Batangas City Coliseum.
Bacoor, meanwhile, booked the first championship seat following a 78-72 repeat over Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines in the other division semifinals earlier.
The GenSan Warriors wasted a 15-point spread in the third quarter, yielded control twice to the Batangas City Embassy Chill Athletics in the final canto, before striking back behind Hafer Mondragon and Enzo Joson down the stretch of Game 2.
Mondragon drilled in a triple, Joson canned a corner jumper, before Mondragon sank two free throws for a closing seven-point run in the last one minute and seven seconds that enabled the Warriors to avenge their 75-81 defeat to the Athletics in Game 1.
GenSan and Batangas dispute the right to fight Bacoor for the South title at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the same venue.
Joson, a former National University Bulldog, wound up with 14 points, including 10 in the second half, three rebounds and two assists to clinch best player honors over John Wilson with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, and Mondragon with seven points and six rebounds.
GenSan Coach Rich Alvarez said both teams have the experience, the composure and the will to win, so Game 3 would likely be decided by “who wants it more.”
Bacoor put the clamps on Zamboanga’s gunners and rode the hot hands of Jan McHale Nermal to reach the division finals for the first time.
Nermal fired 25 points and snagged seven rebounds to lead the Strikers to a 2-0 sweep of Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines, last year’s South division champion.
The Strikers also bested the Zamboanguenos, 61-56, in Game 1.
A three-point play by James Kwekuteye and a triple by Chito Jaime pushed the Strikers to their biggest spread, 69-52, with six minutes and six seconds to go.
Kwekuteye wound up with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Jaime and Michel Canete contributed 10 points each.
Veteran Mark Yee settled for six points, including two free throws that halted a Zamboanga run, 73-65, and grabbed eight rebounds in a balanced Bacoor offense.