MANILA, Philippines – Manila-Frontrow had a record-setting night on Monday, when it took on Mindoro-JAC Liner in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan season.
With their 133-101 win over the Tamaraws, the Stars eclipsed the previous scoring mark of 125 points set by Navotas-Unipak Sardines, while setting other records in the process.
Exploiting their superiority under the boards, the Stars scored 94 inside the paint, surpassing the 90 set by Zamboanga Family's Brand Sardines; scored 55 on the break, erasing Zamboanga's 36; and dumped 39 points in the fourth quarter, also a new MPBL standard.
The victory also raised Manila's record to 23-5 in the Northern Division, clinching homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Steering the Stars in their high-scoring showcase was Chris Bitoon.
Best known for his scoring ways, Bitoon displayed a different facet of his game as he showcased his playmaking this time around. He dished a career-best 12 assists on top of 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals.
"'Yun ang laging sinasabi sa akin ng coaches, na okay na ako sa scoring so kailangan kong maging leader inside the court, kailangan kong maikot 'yung bola at ma-guide ang team ko," said Bitoon.
This marks the second time this season that Bitoon reached double-digit assists in a game. It is what Manila head coach Tino Pinat had asked of his guard.
"Kailangan talaga mag-explore ni Chris sa gameplay niya. Maganda 'yun para sa team namin kasi mas nagiging balance," he explained.
Pinat anticipates his backcourt duo of Bitoon and Carlo Lastimosa to be deadlier as the former transforms into a pure floor general.
"Yun talaga ang pinapa-focus namin kay Chris, 'yung playmaking para mas maging deadly 'yung one-two punch nila ni Carlo," he said.
The 5-foot-11 gunslinger is also improving his passing game in preparation for the PBA as he was drafted 26th overall by the Blackwater Elite franchise last December.
"Nire-ready ko lang 'yung sarili ko para sa PBA kasi siyempre sobrang dami ng mas magagaling na scorer doon so 'yung passing game ko 'yung pina-practice ko ngayon," said Bitoon.
In other games, Cebu-Casino Ethyl Alcohol hacked out a 77-73 win over Nueva Ecija, while Bacoor hammered GenSan-Burlington, 87-75, to also clinch home-court edge in the Southern Division.
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