MANILA, Philippines – Michael Mabulac was admittedly a nervous wreck ahead of his first ever playoff game in the MPBL.
"Sobrang pressure," he said. "Actually, ayaw ko talagang ipahalata na kinakabahan ako every time na pinapasok ako."
Mabulac showed no signs of those nerves, however, as he posted a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double in Bacoor's 95-72 demolition of GenSan-Burlington at the Strike Gym on Wednesday night.
Their huge win allowed the second-seed Bacoor to take a 1-0 lead in their quarterfinal series in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season.
It was not a completely straightforward triumph, as GenSan trimmed a 22-point deficit to just 11, 74-63. But Mabulac was there to answer for Bacoor, sparking a 10-2 run to restore order, 84-65, with 4:16 left to play.
Mabulac was quick to deflect the credit to reigning MVP Gab Banal, who had 11 assists in the game.
"Lahat ng score na 'yon, credit kay Gab lahat 'yon kasi siya 'yung nag-assist sa akin noon. Nung fourth quarter, alam na namin 'yung gagawin namin, eye-to-eye contact na lang," he said.
Mabulac is delighted to play with Banal in Bacoor, as he recalls how he had to carry a much bigger load last season in Laguna.
Last Datu Cup, Mabulac averaged 14.28 points, 11.28 rebounds, and 1.48 blocks, yet, they barely missed the post-season at 10-15, just good for the ninth spot in the South.
"Nag-prepare talaga ako para sa playoffs na ito kasi last year, buhat talaga eh, ginawa ko ang lahat pero kinapos pa rin," lamented Mabulac. "This time, every game mas mataas 'yung kumpyansa ko na mananalo kami kasi kada laro, mayroong isang player na puputok sa amin, hindi lang nakaasa sa isang player."
In the other quarterfinals matchup, third seed Basilan-Jumbo Plastic dominated sixth seed Iloilo, 83-68.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).