Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines drew first blood in a heart stopping game 1 of the best of 3 quarterfinal round against the inaugural champ Batangas City Athletics. Best player of the game Alvin Pasaol led the pack in his homecoming game playing in front of the local folks in Davao City and was all business in carrying the Zamboanga-Family’s Brand Sardines to a tough 78-74 victory over the Tanduay powered Batangas at the start of their best-of-three quarterfinals series Monday night at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Davao City. Alvin Pasaol was somewhat given a rock star treatment and the rest of the Zamboanguenos were all pumped up in delivering a crucial win that put the squad a step closer to returning to the Final Four of the fastest growing regional amateur basketball league put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner. The Universal Canning Inc-owned franchise has a chance to wrap up the series with another win against the Athletics in Batangas City on February 21 and complete a payback against the team that defeated them in last season’s semifinals. Zamboanga got much help from the court leadership of team captain Harold Arboleda who finished with 10 pts including a crucial 3 pointer in the closing minutes of the game. Zamboangueno superstar showed the true fighting spirit and consistency hitting the game sealing free throws to give the Sardines the 4 point lead. Alvin Pasaol, who is considered as one of the best amateur players today, finished with 17 points to lead all Zamboanga scorers. Local bet Robin Roño added 13 while Aaron Black contributed 11 for the Mindanao-based squad, which grabbed 50 rebounds, 11 more than their counterparts. Zamboanga also shot better from the free throw line (17-of-23) for a 73-pecent clip while Batangas City hit 63-percent (23-of-36). But it was defense which spelled the difference for Zamboanga, which held its rival to just seven points in the second period. In one lonely stretch in the quarter, the Athletics, the inaugural staging champion of the MPBL, was limited to just two field goals, allowing Zamboanga to set the tone.Zamboanga is now looking ahead to avenge last season’s defeat when they will face the Athletics in their hometown on February 21, 2020.