The Manila Stars unraveled a gem in Aris Dionisio, as they beat the Bataan Risers, 89-82, in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup at San Andres Sports Complex on Saturday.
The 6-foot-4 Dionisio, a prized find from St. Clare College, scored a team-high 21 points and combined with Marvin Hayes and Adrian Celada to close out Bataan.
Hayes, a 6-foot-2 former pro from Jose Rizal University, canned all of his six free throws in that span while the 6-foot-3 Celada, of Arellano University, knocked in two triples and a free throw as the Stars completed their recovery from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter, 56-46.
Roger Yap showed that at 40 years old he can still help the Stars by contributing 7 points, and game-highs of 11 assists and 4 steals.
Another veteran, Neil Cervantes, chipped in 15 points for the Stars being supported by Robust Energy Capsule.
Manila coach Philip Cezar said he expected the lanky and shifty Dionisio to deliver right away for the Stars, because of his fearless attitude and tireless work ethic.
Trailing, 79-68, early in the fourth quarter, the Risers, behind JJay Alejandro, Pamboy Ramundo, Alfred Batino and Byron Villarias threatened at 84-82, with 1:25 left.
A technical foul was called on Bataan coach Jojo Lastimosa for pointing an accusing finger to a referee over a non-call and Celada canned the ensuing free throw, 85-82.
Villarias led Bataan with 17 points.
A buzzer-beating triple by Cervantes knotted the count at 42-all at the half.
The Risers dropped a 14-2 bomb to surge ahead, 56-46, with 6:33 to go in the third.
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