MANILA, Philippines -- Third seed Basilan-Jumbo Plastic was missing an integral piece when they faced sixth seed Iloilo on Wednesday night.
Allyn Bulanadi is averaging 21.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in seven games for Basilan, but he could not attend the Steel's quarterfinal game on Wednesday night to attend to his duties to Gilas Pilipinas.
Head coach Jerson Cabiltes had no doubts that they could compete even without the San Sebastian College standout, however, saying that his team is "built for games like this."
"We built this team for these situations," he explained. "Next man up attitude. Kung may mawala, kung sino ang susunod, he needs to contribute."
Against Iloilo, that next man up was Jhapz Bautista, who finished with 21 points on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting clip. He was 5-of-5 from inside the arc, and drained three triples.
His efforts powered Basilan to a 1-0 advantage in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan quarterfinals after breezing past the United Royals, 83-68, at the Strike Gym here.
Entering the fourth period, the Steel were already ahead by eight, 61-53. Then came Bautista to put the nail in the coffin.
He sparked a 14-2 telling blast, scoring 10 of those on an and-one, two layups, and a triple while Bobby Balucanag and Gab Dagangon also putting two points apiece to build an insurmountable 20-point lead with 4:40 left, 75-55.
"Always ready lang ako. Kung may mawala sa amin, step up lang ako, focus lang," said Bautista.
Moreover, Bautista wants his squad to advance to the semifinals in front of their home crowd in Basilan on Monday, February 24.
"Gusto ko lang manalo talaga dito ngayon kasi 'yung Game 2 sa Basilan gaganapin, kailangan namin makuha ito para pagdating namin doon, maganda ang maipakita namin sa kanila," he said.
In the other quarterfinals matchup, second seed Bacoor feasted on GenSan-Burlington, 95-72, for the 1-0 lead.
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