TOP-SEED Bacoor thwarted Iloilo in Game 3, 72-61, to complete the Final Four cast in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) South Division over the weekend at the Strike Gym in Cavite.
The Strikers led from the get-go and never looked behind, leading by as many as 20 points for a reverse sweep of the eighth-ranked Royals after a stunning 89-86 defeat in Game 1.
Bacoor retaliated in Game 2 with a one-sided affair, 92-52, serving as its stepping stone for the killer blow with James Kwekuteye leading the way.
The ex-San Beda stalwart banged in 15 points while Jhaymo Eguilos (13 points, 12 rebounds) and JM Nermal (11 points, 12 rebounds) provided solid support for the Strikers.
Bacoor will face No. 4 seed Zamboanga, which also needed three games to fend off No. 5 Quezon, in the semis pairing. The other bracket features No. 2 Batangas against the winner between No. 3 General Santos and No. 6 Muntinlupa.
Motivated by its home fans — including Bacoor City mayor Strike Revilla — the Strikers waxed hot early in building a 10-point lead after the opening salvo before expanding it to a 58-38 gap in the third quarter.
Bacoor kept Iloilo at bay from there on for the convincing win to finally get over the hump after a quarterfinal exit last season.
Mr. Revilla lauded the Strikers, and also the Royals, for a great duel in three games much to delight of the Bacooreños, whom they dedicated the big win for a ticket in the division semis.
Joshua Flores (15) and CJ Catapusan (10) led the tough stand of Iloilo despite being the lowest-ranked squad in the South Division. — John Bryan Ulanday