Mindoro-EOG Burlington beat Manila, 80-77, for its first win in the Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Invitational powered by TM on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Ryusei Koga, who connected on the dagger to help fend off the pesky Stars, fired 17 points along with four assists and three rebounds.
It was an emotional win for the former San Beda standout. He dedicated the win to his late grandfather, Antonio Geralao, who passed away last November 3.
“It’s my lolo’s 40th day today so before the game, I visited his grave. He’s my super fan, he watches each and every game I play,” Koga said.
Koga hit a three-pointer to stretch the Tamaraws’ advantage to five, 78-73, with close to two minutes left in the game.
Mark Neil Cruz answered with a layup before Brent Paraiso secured two free throws to slice Mindoro’s lead to two with 4.1 seconds left in the game.
Two freebies from James Castro iced the game for the Tamaraws.
“If you notice, our players are more familiar with each other. We had little time to prepare so we put together a team whose players already know each other,” Mindoro head coach Britt Reroma said.
Castro also provided 17 points for the Tamaraws, who shot 51.6 percent from three-point territory.
Alvin Baetiong chipped in 13 points and six rebounds while Jeymark Mallari and Jeramer Cabanag had nine and eight points, respectively.
Mindoro (1-0) tied Imus (1-0) for the early lead in Group D while Manila (0-1) joined Bulacan at the bottom.
John Ambulodto and Brent Paraiso led the way for the Stars with 14 points apiece.