K.O. DIVISION FINALS FRIDAY: MANDALUYONG VS MMDA, QC VS SAN JUAN

Games Friday, Nov. 17 ‘17 (San Juan Gym)

6:00 p.m. —  MMDA vs. Mandaluyong

7:30 p.m. — Quezon City vs. San Juan

WHICH teams will be this year’s inaugural MBT South and North Seniors champions?

The answers will be known Friday as South topnotcher Mandaluyong takes on MMDA and

North frontrunner Quezon City battles host San Juan in a pair of winner-take-all matches at the San Juan Gym along N. Domingo St. to determine the division champions.

The Tigers  and the Black Berets clash at 6 p.m. while the Stars and the Wattah Wattah square off at 7:30 p.m  in this  24-and-under event organized by the Metro Manila Development Authority  (MMDA) thru the Metro Manila Sportsfest and supported by the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

The champions of the two divisions will then dispute the overall title in a best-of-three series of the event which has Mobile App ng Bayan Barangay 143 as presentor, my|phone “Bida ang Pinoy” as official mobile phone, Spalding as official ball, and Synergy 88, San Miguel Corp., World Balance and Higer Bus as major sponsors.

Entrance is free to the public as it has always been while the games will be live, also as always, on the MBT’s Metro Manila Sports Fest Facebook page and Livestats links are available at its website http://mmsf.web.geniussports.com/.

Mandaluyong, which is being handled by coach Johnedel Cardel, is the only unbeaten team in the tournament with seven straight victories, including six in the classification phase, one of which was a 100-72 rout of MMDA last Sept. 24 at the Navotas Sports Complex led by a monstrous 20-point, 17-rebound effort by now-GlobalPort Batang Pier incoming rookie Joseph Gabayni.

Even with Gabayni now gone, the Tigers still had plenty of ammunition in eliminating Pateros, 102-63 in the Division semifinals in the same Navotas venue last Nov. 10, just before the league took a break in the deference to the APEC Summit in Manila this week.

Leading the Tigers will be MBT All Star Game MVP Sandy Cenal, Cyrus Tabi, Prince Allan Liquinan, Angelo Manalac and  Andrei Dada.

Steven Andres, Jeremy Deles, Dan Natividad and John Kevin Gatchalian will carry the fight for  No. 3-seed MMDA, which advanced to the Division Finals via an upset 90-79 win in the semis over No. 2 Las Piñas  last Nov. 10 at the San Andres Sports Complex.

Quezon City, which boasts of a combined 6-1 record in the classification and semifinal rounds,  will be bannered by Jefferson Comia, John Kenneth Cortez, Mikhael Justin Salazar and John Mahari.

The Stars survived Navotas 95-92 in the semis on the latter’s homecourt last Nov. 11 to advance to the North finals

San Juan, which earned the right to meet Quezon City following an 83-76 win over Manila also in the latter’s homecourt last Nov. 10, will lean anew on the trio of John Kenneth Zamora, Julian Lago and King Astrero.

Zamora scored on a buzzer-beating triple in Whatta Whatta’s 92-91 overtime victory over the Stars in their classification round clash on the opening day last Sept. 10 at the Makati Coliseum.

It is Quezon City’s only loss thus far in the tournament which is also supported by Excellent Noodles, Nature’s Spring Water, 1-Pacman Partylist, Hopewell Sales Corp., Star Bread, Frabelle Foods, Regan Industrial Sales, Inc., Glitter.ph, Alcoplus and Archie’s Bespoke Bar + Grill.

The best-of-3 Grand Finals of this tourney, which has PBA legend Pido Jarencio as commissioner, will begin on Nov. 20. (Robert Andaya)