MPBL preseason: Bataan, South Cotabato, Valenzuela post wins

MPBL preseason: Bataan, South Cotabato, Valenzuela post wins
Kyle Tolentino stood out for South Cotabato with 21 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists.

MANILA, Philippines – South Cotabato and Bataan pulled off contrasting victories and shared the early lead with Valenzuela in the 2024 MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Preseason Invitational at the Lagao Gym in General Santos City.

The South Cotabato Warriors, formerly the GenSan Warriors, nipped the Batangas City Embassy Chill Athletics, 81-79, while the Bataan Risers overpowered the Manila Stars, 106-79.

Valenzuela routed guest team GenSan Bulalakaw, 93-61 in the opener of the eight-team tournament being held in conjunction with GenSan's Kalinangan Festival.

The Warriors drew firepower from Kyle Tolentino, who posted 21 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists; and Christian Fajarito with 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists.

They were supported by Mark Cruz with 12 points and five assists and Enzo Joson with 10 points, four rebounds and three assists in handing new coach Elvis Tolentino the victory.

Batangas got 17 points from Juneric Baloria, 15 points from Levi Hernandez, 11 points plus eight rebounds from Cedrick Ablaza, and 11 points plus seven assists from MJ Dela Virgen.

Bataan, powered by homegrown talents Yves Sazon and Dante Paguio Jr. led by as far as 100-65 against Manila, which got clobbered in rebounding, 72-46.

Sazon, who posted 20 points and four rebounds and Paguio, who tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds, were supported by Alex Ramos with 13 points and seven rebounds, Dominick Vera with 12 points and Carl Bringas with 10 points.

MPBL Founder and CEO Manny Pacquiao saw action for Bulalakaw, composed of local stars, and came up with 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal.

Defending national champion Pampanga and Quezon City TODA Aksyon clash at 4 p.m. on Thursday. Other matches pit Batangas against Manila at 6 p.m. and Bataan against South Cotabato at 8 p.m.

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