Pampanga relied on Mark Cruz’s solid overall outing to solidify their place in the playoff race in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season with a 75-65 victory over Pasay, Tuesday at the Bahayang Pag-asa Gym in Valenzuela City.
Cruz — who was held to just two points in the first half — recovered just in time, finishing with 14 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds, and four steals.
The victory pushed the Giant Lanterns up to fifth place with a 15-9 record in the Northern Division.
With Pampanga already ahead by 10 points in the final frame, the former Letranite stepped up a gear then scored five points in a span of 27 seconds to give his team its biggest lead of the match, 62-47.
Behind Jan Jamon, Axel Iñigo, and Jason Opiso, though, the Voyagers had an uprising. They trimmed the lead down to just five points, 59-64, with 2:29 minutes left.
Levi Hernandez then connected from downtown in the ensuing play, before Maiquez followed it up with a top-of-the-key jumper to take the fight out of Pasay.
“Nag-celebrate, nagkaroon ng complacency eh. Kaya nire-remind ko sila, ‘wag tayong maging complacent. ‘Wag tayong mag-celebrate, ‘di pa tapos ‘yan. Well, they played good defense, they executed our game plan,” said Pampanga head coach Bong Ramos on his team’s late-game fumble.
Hernandez finished with 15 points and four rebounds, while Maiquez and Juico finished with 13 and 12 markers, respectively.
On the other hand, Jason Opiso led the Voyagers with 12 points and two rebounds. Raymund Ilagan and Dhon Reverente chipped in 11 points apiece.
Pasay remained in the ninth spot of the Northern Division with a 13-11 win-loss card.
Pampanga 75 – Hernandez 15, Cruz 14, Maiquez 13, Juico 12, Thompson 6, Apreku 5, Cervantes 3, Binuya 2, Alberto 2, Fabian 2, Concepcion 1, Acuno 0, Enriquez 0, Baltazar 0, Gomez 0.
Pasay 65 – Opiso 12, Ilagan 11, Reverente 11, Jamon 10, Lastimosa 8, Inigo 8, Hilario 4, Moradas 1, Lomtong 0, Vitug 0, Chan 0, Belencion 0, Solero 0.
Quarterscores: 17-17, 35-28, 51-43, 75-65.
Story by Jonash Dannug
Photo by Angela Davocol
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