Jong Uichico had no difficulty adjusting to the MPBL game as he guided the Bataan Risers to a comfortable 75-62 triumph over the Biñan City-Krah Heroes on Monday night at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.
And the nine-time PBA champion coach has fellow newcomers Joe Presbitero and Anton Asistio to thank for it.
Presbitero, who was part of San Beda’s three-peat squad tallied 16 points on top of seven rebounds while Assistio, a member of back-to-back champion Ateneo, added 13, including three triples.
Mainstay James Castro, who played for Bataan — then owned by BaiShipping, added 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds
Uichico, who won championships as coach of San Miguel, Ginebra and TNT, last handled a team in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games when he led the Gilas cadets to the gold medal.
“This is something new. There’s not much teaching to do as you have no control of what’s happening at times. It’s a free-flowing game,” said Uichico. “But I have to adjust. I need to rely on team play, ball movement, hoping we could go through from there as we still don’t have go-to guys in the team.”
Uichico’s auspicious debut with the Risers overshadowed another winning debut by coach in Keith Martin of the Pasay Voyagers.
A longtime assistant of Aldrin Morante and Chito Victolero, Martin led the Pasay Voyagers to a thrilling 70-68 squeaker of the Navotas Clutch-Unipak.
Trailing 61-67 with 3:18 left, Lastimosa caught fire, scoring six points in a 9-0 blast — including the go-ahead triple with 1:14 left.
Lastimosa had 14 points spiked by three triples.
Kojak Melegrito was fouled with eight seconds left to send him to the stripe. After making the first free throw, he intentionally missed his second freebie and got the rebound. However, Elmer Cabahug missed his floater that would have sent the game into extra time.
Besides Lastimosa, Dhon Reverente and Jan Jamon also tallied 14 points with the former grabbing 10 boards as well.
Melegrito was the sole Clutch player to score in double-digits with 12 markers.
Pasay 70 – Lastimosa 14, Reverente 14, Jamon 14, Inigo 10, Ilagan 8, Belencion 5,Pasia 4, Vitug 1, Moradas 0, Chan 0, Bulawan 0, Bustos 0, Lomtong 0, Solero 0, Telpo 0.
Navotas 68 – Melegrito 12, Evangelista 8, Munsayac 7, Penaflor 7, Orquina 7, Roy 6, Soriano 6, Mamaclay 6, Soriano 6, Cabahug 5, Buenafe 4, Miraflores 0.
Quarterscores: 25-21, 41-35, 57-53, 70-68.
Bataan 75 – Presbitero 16, Castro 14, Asistio 13, Najorda 7, Batino 6, Santillan 6, Jaime 4, Tolentino 3, Gotladera 0, Reyes 0.
Binan 62 – Acosta 16, Parala 9, Mangahas A. 8, Stevens 7, Mangahas J. 7, Neypes 4, Adolfo 4, Orera 4, Adorio 2, Rivera 1, Maloles 0, Bautista 0, Castanares 0, Anonuevo 0, Ravanes 0.
Quarterscores: 14-11, 35-23, 54-45, 75-62.
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