VALENZUELA CITY — This early, the Bataan Risers are gearing up for the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup playoffs.
Though virtually assured of topping the elimination round, the Risers played with even more intensity and ferocity in a 109-65 coast-to-coast drubbing of the Mandaluyong El Tigre Tuesday night at Valenzuela Astrodome.
Tying the league record in winning margin, the Risers raised their record to 20-2, the best in the North division and the entire 26 teams in the fold.
The depleted El Tigre skidded to 8-14 and are virtually out of playoff contention.
Flaunting a deadly running game, the Risers zoomed ahead by 46 points, 88-42, before settling for the 44-point edge that matched the General Santos City Warriors’ 116-72 demolition of the Pasig Pirates on Nov. 24 at Lamitan City New Gymnasium in Basilan.
With the outcome hardly in doubt at halftime, 53-19, Bataan coach Jojo Lastimosa opted to shuffle his bench, fielding all 15 players who scored two points or more.
Gabriel Dagangon and Richard Escoto led the Risers with 15 points each, followed by John Raymundo, John Bryon Villarias and Arvie Bringas with 12 points each.
The 6-foot-5 Bringas, a former De La Salle Green Archer and Far Eastern University Tamaraw, showed he could be a big help in the playoffs by pouring all his points in just 7 minutes and 36 seconds of play in the fourth quarter.
Banking on gang rebounding, the Risers ruled the boards, 58-34, with Dagangon snagging eight.
Only ten El Tigre saw action with Janus Lozada and Jerry Orera scoring 16 and 10, respectively.
In the nightcap, the Valenzuela Classic kept their slight playoffs hope with an 84-75 conquest of the Bulacan Kuyas.
The Classic, drawing firepower from Chris de Chavez (17 points) and Hans Thiele (16), climbed to 9-14, needing to win their last two games to remain in contention for the sixth to eighth playoff seats.
At 13-10, the Kuyas, who got 27 points from Jovit Dela Cruz, are sure to become the fifth North qualifier, following Bataan, Manila (19-4), Makati (18-4) and San Juan (18-5).
The MPBL goes to the Cuneta Astrodome on Wednesday with Cavite bets Bacoor and Imus clashing at 7 p.m. and Pasay and Marikina tangling at 9 p.m.