Pampanga, Bataan dispute OkBet-MPBL semifinal slot

Pampanga and Bataan dispute the last semifinal slot in the North division at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme at the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Although the Bataan Risers stunned the Pampanga Giant Lanterns, 85-83, on Oct. 22 at the same venue, the Giant Lanterns remain the slight picks as the local folks are expected to come in droves in support of their team composed mostly of homegrown talents.

The Giant Lanterns, being coached by Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda, bested the Camaya Coast-backed Risers, 82-75, in the three-game quarterfinal series opener on Oct. 15.

The Risers of coach Ricky Dandan, however, struck back in Game 2 behind the 22-point, 7-rebound, 4-assist, 2-steal effort of Kristoffer Torrado. Other Risers who delivered that time were Arvie Bringas with 16 points and 13 rebounds, Ernesto Bondoc with 12 points and Gio Espuelas with 9 points and 6 rebounds as they compensated for go-to-guy James Darwin Castro’s meager 6-point, 8-assist, 5-rebound output.

MPBL All-Star Archie Concepcion is expected to atone for his fair performance in Game 2, where the 6-foot-2 gunner was held to 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.

Michael Garcia, who picked up the scoring cudgels for Pampanga in Game 2 with 23 points is also expected to contribute with Dominick Vera and Jammer Jamito.

Nueva Ecija, Pasig and SanJuan have clinched the first three North semifinal seats by sweeping their quarterfinal rivals.