Batangas City Embassy Chill posted a huge lead and proceeded to beat Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines, 80-71, on Saturday in Game 1 of their OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme South division crown at the Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City.
The Athletics surged ahead, 68-46, and used it to cushion the impact of the Zamboanguenos’ final rally which took them to within 68-73.
Jeckster Apinan, however, scored inside and Jong Baloria knocked in a dagger triple to take the fight out of the Zamboanguenos.
Baloria wound up with 19 points, five rebounds, and three blocks to earn best player honors. Cedrick Ablaza contributed 17 points and eight rebounds, while Rudy Lingganay, who hails from Zamboanga City, chipped in nine points, four rebounds, and four assists.
Zamboanga got 22 points and six rebounds from Jaycee Marcelino, 13 from Jhapz Bautista and 10 points plus six rebounds from Jhaymo Eguilos, who was a former key player for Batangas.
With the win, the Athletics need only to repeat over the Zamboanguenos on Tuesday at the Batangas City Coliseum to seal their best-of-three series.
Other contributors for Batangas Coach Cholo Villanueva were Vincent Importante with eight points and Dawn Ochea and MJ Dela Virgen with six points each.
Meanwhile, the San Juan Knights shoot for the North division crown when they tangle with the Nueva Ecija Vanguards at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.