(Bataan People’s Center)
7: p..m -- Manila vs. Rizal
9 p.m.-- Bataan vs. Zamboanga
IMUS-- Renato Ular, a virtually unknown player in the MPBL Datu Cup, is now beginning to make his mark.
Late Friday night, the hardworking frontliner hit the biggest shot of his playing career in sending the Marikina Shoemasters to their straight win via a thrilling 87-85 win over the Bacoor Strikers at the Imus Sports Complex.
Ular, one of the walk-in tryouts, but has since then started to stamp his class with the Shoemasters, had a double-double performance 19 points and 15 rebounds.
He capped his game-long brilliance with a game-winning jumper in the final two seconds of the match that all but sealed the win for the Shoemasters, who now improved to 7-10 in a tie with the Zamboanga-Family’s Brand Sardines at 10th to 11th spots.
But Marikina has been in a roll and head coach Elvis Tolentino is beginning to like the character shown by his rising team that came back from 17 points down being turning back the Strikers, who now lost four in a row.
Bacoor slipped to 8-9, tied for fifth to sixth spots with the General Santos City Warriors.
Marikina’s impressive performance earned the admiration of the Imus folks who turned on to cheer for the Marikeños instead of supporting Bacoor, a nearby city here.
“We really appreciate it. It’s surprising that they cheered for us, but we know how Filipinos love basketball and they love to cheer for the underdogs. Maybe thye just loved the way we fought back and win,” added Tolentino.
With Ular doing it on both ends of the court, Marikina was able to climb back from a huge deficit made possible by its extra effort in getting the boards.
The Shoemasters clobbered their rivals in the rebounding department. Marikina grabbed 24 more rebounds than Bacoor, 60-36.
Host Imus walloped Parañaque, 95-77,
The tournament resumes on Monday (Jan. 7) with two games at the Bataan People’s Center in Bataan.
It will be Manila against Rizal in the first game at 7 p.m. and host Bataan versus Zamboanga at 9 p.m.
Action retursn to Pasig Sports Complex the following day, Jan. 8 with Quezon City taking on Mandaluyong at 7 p.m. and Pasig battling Makati at 9 p.m.
Games will be shown live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel.