DEDENDING champion Macway Travel Club resumes its title-retention bid when it takes on Philippine Air Force in the 2016 MBL Open basketball tournament at the EAC Sports Center in Ermita, Manila.
The 7:30 p.m. encounter promises to be another cliffhanger with both Macway and Air Force looking to nail a third victory that would solidify their chances for an outright semis berth.and the twice-to-beat advantage.
Emilio Aguinaldo College, the only unbeaten team in the tournament, also hopes to boost its chances when it meets Wang’s Ballclub in the 6 p.m. curtainraiser.
Macway dropped two of its first four matches but remains a formidable threat with a veteran-laden lineup built around ex-PBA stars E.J. Feihl, Bonbon Custodio, Larry Rodriguez, Nino Marquez and Jeff Sanders and American imports Mike Harry and Jimmy Brown.
Also expected to lead the Daniel Martinez-mentored squad are Pol Santiago, Mark Fampulme, Jack Corpuz, Floyd Dedicatoria and Teng Reyes.
Air Force, which is being handled by coaches Alvin Zuniga and Jimmy Andaya and supported by PAF CG Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina, Col. Elpidio Talja and LTC Nestor Etis, lost its opening match against EAC but came back to sweep top favorite FEU-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation and Wang’s Ballclub.
Leading the Jet Force are Rama Krishna Morales, Paulino Rebollos, Darwin Cordero, Jerry Lumongsod, Roger Malig-on, Ranimark Tano, Raniel Jake Diwa, Francis Regalado, Romeo Almerol and Reymark Pinto.
Morales is best remembered for hitting the buzzer-beating three-point shot in Air Force’s dramatic 84-82 win over FEU-NRMF last Oct.19.
The Generals, who are hoping to improve their fourth-place finish in the MBL First Conference last May, opened with three straight victories against Air Force, San Jose Builders and Jamfy.
A fourth straight win will boost EAC’s chances for an outright semis berth in this tournament sponsored by Smart Sports, Ironcon Builders, Bread Story, Dickies Underwear and Gerry’s Grill.
The Generals will rely anew on Jerome Garcia, Juju Bautista, Jethro Mendoza, Rustan Bugarin, Haspee Altiche, Jeric Diego, Carlo Gano, Cedric Umali, Allan Martin and Sidney Onwubere.
Wang’s Ballclub blew a huge 19-point lead over Air Force and lost for the third time in four tries last Nov. 5.