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With Batangas missing its key players, Ryusei Koga comes through against Valenzuela

by Niel Victor Masoy, February 09, 2020 3:01pm

Batangas faced home team Valenzuela without its key players on Saturday night in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup at the Bahayang Pag-Asa Gym.

Rey Suerte, Jaydee Tungcab, and Jeff Viernes were all missing in action as they had to attend to their other commitments.

Suerte and Tungcab went to Gilas Pilipinas' practice,  while Viernes went to Malaysia to assistant-coach his club team there.

Jayson Grimaldo also did not play in the contest as he's still nursing a knee injury.

Fortunately for the undermanned Athletics, Ryusei Koga rose to the occasion.

The 5-foot-9 point guard dropped an all-around performance of 13 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and one block to lead Batangas to a 77-66 win.

"The last few games medyo hindi ako consistent, ngayon inayos ko yung sarili ko, I have to be consistent, I have to be tough going to the playoffs," said Koga, who was also plus 17 in his 30 minutes of action.

Koga - a former San Beda Red Lion - proved to be the 'next man up' against Valenzuela, indeed.

"We were without key players but we still got the win. We are creating the culture of next man up, whoever is playing go hard lang lagi, hopefully, madala namin hanggang playoffs," said Athletics head coach Woody Co.

With its fourth straight victory, Batangas moved up to an 18-11 win-loss card, sharing a tie with Zamboanga at the fourth spot in the South Division team standings.

Should Batangas and Zamboanga won their last respective assignments that will keep their records still identical, it is the former that will clinch the fourth spot as it beat the latter in their head-to-head matchup.

The top four teams in both the North and South Divisions have a homecourt advantage over the bottom four teams in the playoffs.

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