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MPBL: Batangas routs Bulacan as Marikina, Muntinlupa stun favored foes


Batangas trounced Bulacan, 76-60, and avoided the upsets that befell Zamboanga and General Santos earlier on Saturday in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the Batangas City Coliseum.

The Marikina Shoemasters relied on a buzzer-beating triple by Marwin Dionisio to subdue Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines, 74-71, in the opener, followed by the Muntinlupa Cagers’ 67-60 victory over the GenSan Warriors in the single round-robin elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.

Dominating the boards and playing with cohesion, the Batangas City Embassy Chill Athletics pulled away at 56-32 before coasting to their 11th win against two losses.

With Mark Cruz and Jeckster Apinan grabbing 9 boards each, Batangas posted a significant 47-32 edge in rebounds, leading to 42 points inside the paint compared to only 22 for Bulacan.

Levi Hernandez led Batangas with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists, with Cruz adding 10 points and Apinan contributing 9, displaying a balanced firepower.

Bulacan, which received 17 points, 13 in the fourth quarter, from Jeremy Cruz and 14 from Benson Sebastian, fell to 6-8.

The Marikina-Zamboanga encounter was a thriller, with Jaycee Marcelino, the reigning MPBL MVP, scoring five points to tie the game at 71.

However, the 6-foot-3 Dionisio, a key player for Jose Rizal University, knocked down the trey, his fifth in six attempts, in a well-executed 13-second play to give Marikina its 6th win against 8 losses.

Lanky Jason Strait also excelled for the Shoemasters with 14 points, 12 in the fourth quarter, and 8 rebounds, along with homegrown Deo Timajo, who contributed 10 points.

Marcelino finished with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals for Zamboanga, the 2023 MPBL Preseason Invitational champion, which received 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists from Jayvee Marcelino, Jaycee’s twin, 13 points from Jerald Bautista, and 12 points plus 7 rebounds from Joseph Gabayni.

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Muntinlupa’s Marco Balagtas drilled a triple, while John Delos Santos added a lay-up with 2 minutes and 17 seconds left, marking the game’s final basket as neither team could convert in their last four attempts each.

Chino Mosqueda led Muntinlupa to a 7-6 record with 13 points, followed by Balagtas with 12. GenSan slipped to 8-4, with only Jervy Cruz scoring in double digits with 11.

The MPBL moves to the FilOil Ecooil Centre on Monday with a triple bill featuring Mindoro against Makati at 4 p.m., Bacolod against Pasay at 6 p.m., and Bataan against San Juan at 8 p.m.

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