MPBL: San Juan at joint-1st; Pampanga, South Cotabato chalk up wins

MPBL: San Juan at joint-1st; Pampanga, South Cotabato chalk up wins
Rence Alcoriza brings the ball down for Pampanga.

MANILA, Philippines – San Juan shared the lead, Pampanga extended its hot streak, while South Cotabato gained traction on Monday in the MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Sixth Season at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The San Juan Knights sped away in the third quarter and proceeded to beat the Negros Muscovados, 85-64, for their eighth straight win that pushed them on top with the Quezon Huskers in the round-robin elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.

Defending champion Pampanga, on the other hand, turned a projected tight fight into a 77-59 drubbing of Paranaque in the nightcap, handing the Giant Lanterns their eighth victory after an initial loss.

In the opener, the South Cotabato Warriors trounced the Bicolandia Oragons, 82-68, and gained ground with a 7-3 record.

Held to a 37-30 count at the break, the Knights turned hot in the second half and led by as far as 81-57 in pulling down the Muscovados to 4-6.

Michael Calisaan paced a balanced San Juan attack with 12 points and seven rebounds, followed by Dexter Maiquez with 11 points and seven rebounds, and Orlan Wamar with 11 points and three rebounds.

San Juan coach Sen. Jinggoy Estrada fielded 15 players, only one of whom failed to score.

Pampanga allowed Paranaque to score the first basket before piling 10 points and proceeding to pull down the Patriots to 7-3

Rence Alcoriza topped Pampanga's scorers with 15 points, followed by Archie Concepcion with 13 and MJ Garcia with 12. Reigning MPBL Most Valuable Player Justine Baltazar settled for 11 points but snagged 16 rebounds and issued four assists.

Paranaque got 17 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals from Joshua Gallano as Top Gun Jielo Razon was held to six points, veteran Mark Yee three points and sniper Philip Manalang went scoreless.

Powered by Jammer Jamito and Marwin Dionisio, South Cotabato surged ahead, 77-52, only for the Oragons to bunch 14 points behind Charles Burgos and reduce the deficit somewhat.

Jamito wound up with 18 points and seven rebounds, followed by Enzo Joson with 12 points, five assists, three rebounds plus two steals; and Jervy Cruz with 10 points and four rebounds.

Bicolandia tasted its 10th straight setback despite the 15-point, nine-rebound effort of Burgos and Shaquille Alanes’ 15 points.

The MPBL goes to the Caloocan Sports Complex on Tuesday with games pitting Imus against Abra at 4 p.m., Sarangani against Marikina at 6 p.m. and Zamboanga against Caloocan at 8 p.m.

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