Quezon staged a stunning comeback to beat Negros, 82-80, and join Bataan at the top of the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season standings, Saturday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.
Despite trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half, the Huskers managed to turn the tide in the second half. The Huskers went on a 10-point run late in the game to take the lead for the first time at 79-78.
Jeric Teng played a key role in the comeback, scoring eight points in the last 10 minutes of the game, while Mark Pangilinan and RJ Minerva knocked in a triple each.
Lucena City Mayor Mark Alcala also made an impact, scoring on a fast break and drilling two triples, the second of which gave Quezon the lead, 46-44, in the first half.
Thomas Torres was also instrumental in the victory, contributing 12 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Pangilinan chipped in 11 points and Minerva added 10 for the Huskers.
Despite missing two key players in Will Gozum and Ken Holmqvist, Quezon managed to outscore Negros in the second half to clinch the win. The Muscovados were led by Jonathan Gantalao, who scored 18 points, and Jason Melano, who had 13 points and eight rebounds.
In the opening game, Bataan defeated Rizal Xentromall Golden Coolers, 81-70, with top gunner James Castro scoring 20 points and Yves Sazon adding 12.
The Risers pulled away midway through the last quarter to clinch the win. Rizal got 23 points from former Ateneo player Troy Mallillin and 11 points from King Rodney Fuentes.
The inaugural ceremonies of the Fifth Season were attended by MPBL Founder and CEO Manny Pacquiao and were declared open by Commissioner Keith Duremdes.
The MPBL continues at the Star Arena in Baliuag, Bulacan on Monday, with a triple-header featuring Quezon City vs. Bicol at 4 p.m., Nueva Ecija vs. Laguna at 6 p.m., and Sarangani vs. Bulacan at 8 p.m.