MANILA brought down inaugural champion Marikina, 79-72, in an action-packed opening-day action in the MMDA-Metropolitan Basketball Tournament seniors division at the Makati Coliseum recently.
Handled by PBA legend Philip Cezar, the All Stars controlled the tempo of the game and survived a superb 31-point effort by Felix John Villarente to clinch the win in this 14-team tournament organized by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) through the Metro Manila Sports Fest (MMSF) and sponsored by San Miguel Corporation, World Balance and Higer Bus.
Mark Christian Yu, Bryan Santos and Alladin Sultan combined for 44 points on a respectable 16-of-22 shooting for the All Stars, who took a 14-point lead going into the fourth quarter and staved off the Shoelanders’ determined rally.
Villarente topscored for Marikina with 31 points highlighted by 6-of-13 shooting from rainbow territory and 6-of-9 clip from the two-point area.
Lewis Tobias and Christian Canicula added 19 and 14 points, respectively, for Marikina, which ruled the 16 years old and under tournament last summer.
Sharing the limelight were Parañaque, which overcame a slow start to beat Makati, 83-75, and San Juan, which shocked Quezon City, 92-91, in overtime.
The Green Berets, who finished runner-up in the 16-and-under tourney last summer, leaned on Lawrence Paulo Castro’s team-high 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and one steal.
Castro struck hardest in the final period, scoring 11 of Paranaque’s 17 points.
Three other players -- Lordy Joshua Geronimo, Chris Lalata and Jayboy Solis -- also scored in double figures for the Green Berets of coach Mike Saguiguit.
Chris John Dabbay carried the fight for Makati with a double-double performance of 22 points and 14 rebounds.
The day also belonged to John Kenneth Zamora, whose buzzer-beating triple carried San Juan to victory over Quezon City.
The win enabled San Juan to join Manila in the early lead in the North Division.
The two-month long tournament is an initiative of the MMDA under the leadership of Chairman Danilo Lim, through the Metro Manila Sports Fest (MMSF) in support of President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign through sports.
Also supporting the event are Excellent Noodles, Nature’s Spring Water, 1-Pacman Partylist, Hopewell Sales Corp., Gatorade, Star Bread, Frabelle Foods, Regan Industrial Sales, Inc., Glitter.ph, Alcoplus, Primadonna and Archie’s Bespoke Bar + Grill.
Commissioner Pido Jarencio said each team has 15 players on a roster to be composed of two players between 23-24 years old, another two players between 21-22 years old and the remaining 11 players from the 16 to 20 years age range.
Format calls for a single round-robin affair per division in the classification phase. The top ranked team in both divisions will advance to the semifinals outright and will also have twice-to-beat advantage against its opponent.
The quarterfinals will be 2-vs-7, 3-vs-6 and 4-vs-5 affairs for each division with the winners advancing to the semis.