Bataan waited nearly a year for a return bout with Manila, the first team which dealt the Risers their first loss in the MPBL Datu Cup.
On Tuesday, the two powerhouse squads meet again at the start of the northern division best-of-three semifinals series at the People’s Center in Balanga, Bataan.
With the stakes getting higher and games getting tougher, expect the Zetapro-backed Risers and the Robust Energy-sponsored Stars to bring out their A-game in their 9 p.m. encounter today right after the start of the San Juan-Quezon City series opener at 7 p.m.
“The real playoffs begins for us this time,” said Bataan head coach Jojo Lastimosa, who still recalls his team’s first-ever loss in the tournament at the hands of the Stars. “There were a lot of changes happened. This is a different Bataan team and they’re also a different Manila team. Both teams have become better as the tournament progresses. This will be our biggest test in the tournament.”
The series between San Juan and Quezon City is equally as exciting.
For the Big J Sports-backed Knights, it’s a chance to restore the old winning tradition.
Nearly two decades ago, San Juan won a championship in the Metropolitan Basketball Association, the precursor of the MPBL. The man who steered the Knights to the championship was Philip Cezar, who is now handling Manila.
For Quezon City, it’s an opportunity to redeem its lost pride.
The team was condemned from playing a sub-par performance against San Juan last time they met and there’s no better way to make up for that than beating the favored Knights in the series.