Both teams played superb in the whole four quarters of the game, but Iloilo United Royals fell short from the hands of Bacoor City Strikers as the latter survived a 72-61 victory in the do-or-die Game 3 of the 2023 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Southern Division quarterfinals in Bacoor, Cavite.

Posting a double-double 13 points and 12 rebounds, Jhaymo Eguilos was named Player of the Game as the Strikers finished off the best-of-three series, 2-1.

“Sinigurado namin na hindi na mawawala ‘yung lamang namin kasi, nung Game 1, lumamang kami ng 23 points pero natalo pa din kami,” said Eguilos.

The No. 1 seed team also got some big help from James Canlas Kwekuteye who led the way with 15 points, while Negrense Jhan McHale Nermal waxed hot in the second half to tally double-double 11 points and 12 rebounds in the win.

With the win, the Alex Angeles-coached Strikers will face Zamboanga City Family’s Brand Sardines, which entered the Southern Division semifinals after defeating Quezon Huskers, 88-76.

The Strikers jumped to a 16-7 start behind triples from Michael Canete and Yvan Ludovice. The United Royals rallied to within 11-16 but a triple by Chito Jaime and an inside hit by Eguilos widened Bacoor City’s lead to 22-12.

Bacoor City continued its run in the second quarter behind triples from Kwekuteye, Ludovice and Nermal as the lead reached 37-20 but Iloilo City answered back with consecutive baskets to cut the deficit to 29-41 at the half.

Iloilo pulled even closer early in the third quarter as they cut the deficit to 35-45 after a triple from Joshua Flores but Bacoor City responded with baskets from Nermal, Eguilos and Ilonggo Aaron Jeruta to increase the lead to 55-36.

Flores starred United Royals with 15 points, including two three-point conversions, while Conrad Catapusan had a near double-double of 10 points and nine rebounds.IMT Sports