Behind Carlo Lastimosa's efficient offensive outing, Manila-Frontrow beat Pasig-Sta. Lucia 91-88 to bag Game One of their 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season best-of-3 quarterfinals at San Andres Sports Complex on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Jong Baloria spearheaded a huge fourth-quarter rally to lift third seed Makati-Super Crunch past sixth-seed Bulacan 94-88.
Lastimosa, one of only two Stars players to score in double digits, finished the game with 23 points on 71.4 percent shooting from the field.
Down by 12, Pasig's Marc Tamayo and Jeric Teng kick-started an 8-0 offensive strike to trim Manila's lead to four points, 87-83, with 35 seconds left.
Gabby Espinas drained a couple of charities to restore order for the Stars but Josan Nimes answered with a layup to cut the lead back down to four.
Gian Abrigo went 2-of-2 from the line to ice the game for good.
Teng drained a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining to peg the final score.
" 'Yung mental toughness talaga ng mga players, pinakita nila na kahit push comes to shove, nandoon sila," said Manila head coach Tino Pinat.
In the first game, with Makati down by six points in the final frame, Baloria fired seven points in a 14-0 rally to give his side its first lead since the the first quarter, 81-74, with 4:42 left to play.
JR Alabanza and Oliver Arim then managed to pull Bulacan to within two points.
However, Joseph Sedurifa and Joshua Torralba took the scoring cudgels from Baloria, pouring 11 consecutive points to put up a 13-point cushion for Makati, 94-81, with 32 seconds left to play.
Rev Diputado tried to salvage the win for Bulacan with seven straight points, but time clearly was not on their side as Makati went on to a 1-0 series advantage.
Makati-Super Crunch (94) -- Baloria 20, Sedurifa 17, Ablaza 17, Torralba 15, Apinan 9, Atkins 6, Importante 3, Cruz 3, Lingganay 2, Villanueva 2.
Bulacan (88) -- Diputado 17, Dela Cruz 17, Alabanza 13, Siruma 10, Escosio 7, Nermal 6, Capacio 6, Santos 6, Taganas 4, Arim 2, Alvarez 0, De Mesa 0.
Quarterscores: 15-24, 37-44, 62-66, 88-94.
Manila-Frontrow (91) -- Lastimosa 23, Espinas 11, Abrigo 9, Go 9, Hayes 8, Dyke 7, Matias 6, Gabriel 5, Dionisio 4, Montilla 3, Bitoon 2.
Pasig-Sta. Lucia (88) -- Teng 30, Nimes 19, Najorda 18, Manalang 11, Gotladera 6, Tamayo 4, Grealy 0, Chavenia 0, Velchez 0, Mendoza 0, Canon 0
Quarterscores: 19-26, 54-50, 72-68, 91-88
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