Montana hands Pacman 2nd loss,M. Lhuillier downs Bida-Laguna

Montana Pawnshop's Mike Maniego vs. M.Lhuillier cagers.(Photo courtesy of Rene B. Lumawag)
Will the real Pacman please stand up?
Manny Pacquiao’s basketball franchise went down to another heartbreaking defeat and with two losses in as many games, you get to start thinking if the real Pacman should be suiting up for his team or can Freddie Roach can help its cause.
But this is basketball and this team may not have the speed and marksmanship of its owner in a close 84-80 overtime loss to the home squad Montana Pawnshop on Monday night in the Mayor Rody-Vice Mayor Inday Sara 73rd Araw ng Dabaw Invitational basketball tournament.
Late in the night, Cebu’s M. Lhuillier turned back Team Bida of Laguna 91-75 to get back on track after an opening day loss and for the second playdate, fans filled the newly-refurbished Almendras Gym to the rafters reminiscent of the good old days.
Montana’s sweet-shooting wingman Henry Fernandez fired 8 of the Jewels’ last 10 points in regulation but it was Don Tadena’s putback that sent the game into overtime. Pacman’s Louie Medalla showed a lot of spunk in the fourth period, firing 11 of his 18 points, including a booming triple that could have won it for Pacman.
The story in overtime was about experience and that was essayed well by Montana’s veterans.
Speedy quarterback Michael Manigo broke Pacman’s swarming defense, regaled the crowd with several passes whipped from the blind side to Fernandez and Tadena as the Jewels survived the Warriors from Gen. Santos City who showed a lot of heart despite falling short of ammunition.
The second win shoved Montana by the doorstep to the finals as it remained the only unbeaten team in this tournament organized under the supervision of the City Sports Development Division and the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP).
Laguna’s Team Bida, which stands for Batang Iwas Droga, led through the third canto but wilted under the heat of Lhuillier rifleman Stephen Padilla’s scorching triples. Padilla, a former PBA journeyman, fired 7 triples from way out of the amateur arc to lead the Cebuanos with 24 points. Crowd favorite Marlon Basco added 14 including a one-handed slam in the dying seconds while Mark Magsumbol, who celebrated his birthday a night before, and Ariel Mepana combined for 23.
The Drugbusters were paced by Robert Sanz with 15 while Leomar Losented added 13.
Both Lhuillier and Bida tote a 1-1 win-loss slate and will need a win to at least tie for a finals berth. Lhuillier has a +12 quotient after 2 games while Bida has -6. That means Bida has to beat Montana in the last day of eliminations and pray that Lhuillier lose to Pacman to earn a ticket to the finals. A win by Lhuillier coupled by a Bida loss will arrange a Montana-Lhuillier finals.
A 3-way tie is possible if Montana loses to Bida and Lhuillier wins over Pacman. In that case, the quotient system will be the decider. Montana thus far holds a +8 quotient.
With the three franchises mathematically still in contention, Pacman will be relegated to the role of playing spoiler. It may not help its cause but it will surely rock the standings. A call from the real Pacman straight from Vegas may yet prick the pride of the franchise to go for one last crack at victory.
Whatever, expect a fight from the Pacman Warriors. Afterall, they do not cower like James Clottey. (pr)

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