Muntinlupa defused Manila’s final rally to prevail, 85-74, late Tuesday and gain a share of the lead in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex.
The Stars moved to within 58-65 on a lay-p by Dan Sara, but the Cagers countered through Biboy Enguio, who clustered five points, and Reneford Ruaya, who scored on a drive, to seal the outcome, 74-60, with 4 minutes and 31 seconds to go.
The Cagers tallied their second straight win and caught up with idle Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Bulacan, Zamboanga, Batangas City, Bacoor, and Quezon Province at the top of the 29-team tournament.
Earlier, Paranaque and Sarangani bested separate opponents to level their slates at 1-1.
Paranaque rode on the 20-point explosion of homegrown Paolo Castro to trip Iloilo, 92-79, while Sarangani pounced on the undermanned Pasig City MCW Sports to tally an 82-65 victory.
Pasig fell to 1-1 while Iloilo absorbed its second straight defeat.
Enguio fired 16 points, including 10 in the last quarter, grabbed five rebounds, and issued three assists to earn best player honors.
The former University of the East Warrior was supported by Chino Mosqueda with 13 points, three assists, and two rebounds, Ruaya with 11 points and 11 rebounds, Ian Melencio with 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists, Dave Moralde with nine points and four rebounds, Niccolo Gonzales with eight points and Rommel Mangalino with seven points.
Kemark Carino, Muntinlupa’s 6-foot-8 center, chipped in six points and two rebounds.
Kyle Neypes posted 18 points and 5 rebounds for Manila, which also got 13 points, all in the fourth quarter, plus five rebounds and two assists from Sara, and 12 points and five rebounds from Mark Acosta.
The MPBL goes to the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga, on Thursday with a triple bill pitting GenSan against Mindoro at 4 p.m., debuting Imus against Negros Muscovados at 6 p.m. and Quezon City against Bulacan at 8 p.m.