Pampanga extended its winning streak, while Batangas-Embassy Chill survived in overtime to boost their drive in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season on Monday at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex.
Relying on their sharpshooters and towering frontline, the Pampanga Giant Lanterns dominated the Manila Stars, 91-63, improving their record to 11-0.
Meanwhile, the Batangas City Embassy Chill Athletics leaned on the heroics of Levi Hernandez to defeat the Muntinlupa Cagers, 90-84, in the elimination round of the 29-team tournament.
Hernandez sank a three-pointer to force overtime, then scored Batangas’ first seven points in the extra period, propelling the Athletics to a 10-2 record, tying them with Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines.
In another game, Zamboanga also routed the Quezon City Gaz N Go, 99-66, in the opener.
Led by Archie Concepcion and Jayson Apolonio, who contributed 19 and 15 points respectively, along with Justine Baltazar’s double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds, Pampanga sealed Manila’s 11th loss in 13 games early in the fourth quarter, with a score of 82-42, signaling their readiness to challenge for the championship this year.
While Pampanga had a smooth ride, Batangas encountered a rough path against Muntinlupa, needing a comeback from a 71-76 deficit with only 1 minute and 1 second left in regulation play.
Juneric Baloria made a drive, and Hernandez hit a corner jumper with 14 seconds remaining to force the game into overtime. Muntinlupa, which had a 39-21 lead, ended up with a 6-6 record.
Hernandez, who finished with 38 points, propelled Batangas to an 85-80 lead, with Mark Cruz splitting two free throws, and Oliver Arim and Jeckster Apinan each contributing a basket, as the Athletics overcame the efforts of Reneford Ruaya, who scored all of Muntinlupa’s eight points in overtime and finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds.
Baloria provided support to Hernandez with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
On Tuesday, the MPBL moves to the Cuneta Astrodome, with Mindoro facing off against Bacolod at 4:00 PM; Makati taking on Marikina at 6:00 PM; and Bataan testing Pasay at 8:00 PM.