Basilan blasts Roxas for 1-0 finals lead

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JUMBO PLASTIC-Basilan is now a win away from the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup Mindanao Leg championship. 

Coming off an 11-day rest, the Peace Riders did not miss a beat, blasting Petra Cement-Roxas, 81-69, Sunday evening to take Game One of the best-of-three Mindanao finals at the Pagadian City Gymnasium in Zamboanga del Sur.

Basilan looks to clinch the title on Monday at 5 p.m., and gain the right to face Visayas Leg kings KCS-Mandaue in the Southern Finals. 

Meanwhile, the fourth seed Vanguards aim for an equalizer.

Chris Bitoon was a sniper off the bench for Basilan, firing away 20 points on 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc to go with four assists.

Mythical team member Michael Mabulac added 12 points and six rebounds, while Season MVP Hesed Gabo chipped in 10 points, four steals, three rebounds, and three assists.

“I’m just happy we followed the game plan even after having a long break. We just have fresher legs than them so we just kept on pressuring from start to finish,” Peace Riders head coach Jerson Cabiltes said.

Already ahead by 10 entering the second half, Basilan limited its rivals to just 13 points while draining 21 to establish an 18-point margin entering the fourth period, 63-45.

The squads then just traded baskets, a situation that favored the leading Peace Riders.

Two free throws by Francis Camacho slashed the Vanguards’ deficit to just 12, with 2:08 to go. But it was a case of too little, too late.

The Peace Riders capitalized on Roxas’ 22 turnovers, translating them to 24 easy points. The victors also dominated the running game, tallying 20 fast break points while their foes only had six.

Vanguards’ veterans Leo Najorda and Chito Jaime each dropped 16 points and five rebounds.

MVP finalist James Castro was held to just six points on a 1-of-6 shooting clip. He also committed four turnovers.

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