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GenSan, Muntinlupa battle for last MPBL semis ticket

MANILA, Philippines – GenSan and Muntinlupa dispute the last semifinal slot in the MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season Playoffs at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Paco Arena in Manila.

The Muntinlupa Cagers stunned the GenSan Warriors, 99-91, on October 17 to force the decider in their best-of-three quarterfinal series in the South division.

The Warriors prevailed in Game 1, 79-70, behind the combined efforts of Jervy Cruz, John Wilson, Enzo Joson, Nico Elorde and Michole Sorela.

Muntinlupa, however, struck back through Ian Melencio, Dave Moralde and Reneford Ruaya in Game 2 and arranged the knockout encounter.

Melencio, an icon in pocket tournaments in Cavite, has averaged 13.5 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the series thus far, complementing Moralde's averages of 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Ruaya is contributing 11 points and 7 rebounds for the Cagers of Coach Aldrin Morante.

Other cagers expected to deliver are John Amores, Val Acuna, Marco Balagtas and JP Sarao.

Despite their loss in Game 2, the Warriors remain the slight favorites over the Cagers owing to their deeper bench.

Apart from Wilson, Cruz, Elorde, Sorela and Joson, GenSan coach Rich Alvarez can depend on Mark Cruz, who has yet to turn hot, and bigs Larry Rodriguez and Felix Apreku.

The Game 3 winner will be pitted against the waiting Batangas City Embassy Chill in the best-of-three semifinals starting Saturday at the Strike Gymnasium in Bacoor, Cavite.