Philippine basketball

Manila drags San Juan to do-or-die for Filbasket title

Delfin Dioquino
Manila drags San Juan to do-or-die for Filbasket title

TOP SCORER. Chris Bitoon leads AICC Manila in scoring in their finals-tying win.

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Chris Bitoon and AICC Manila bounce back from their finals-opening loss by holding off a gutsy comeback stand from the San Juan Knights

AICC Manila forced a winner-take-all battle for the inaugural Filbasket championship after eking out a 74-70 win over the San Juan Knights-Go For Gold at the Subic Bay Gymnasium on Sunday, November 21.

Chris Bitoon delivered a team-high 13 points to go with 2 rebounds and 2 assists as Manila bounced back from its 74-80 loss in the finals opener to knot the best-of-three series at 1-1.

The Knights trailed by as many as 16 points in the final quarter before they made a last-ditch comeback attempt, cutting their deficit to 65-70 with 1:40 minutes left off a Rhenz Abando triple.

However, Manila kept San Juan at bay as Bitoon and Hesed Gabo sank their pressure-packed free throws to give their side enough breathing room.

Gabo came off the bench and produced 12 points and 3 rebounds, Jesse Collado had 11 points and 6 rebounds, while Michael Mabulac churned out 7 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

San Juan led 16-11 after the opening period, but Manila rained four triples in a 28-point second-quarter outburst to seize a 39-26 halftime lead.

Abando paced the Knights with 16 points off the bench, while Adrian Nocum chipped in 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals.

The do-or-die Game 3 is slated on Monday, November 22. –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.