Rizal Xentro Mall survived a fiery rally by Paranaque to prevail, 80-79, in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season on Thursday at the Olivarez College Gymnasium in Paranaque.
Trailing 70-79 going into the last two minutes, the Paranaque Patriots scored eight consecutive points, capped by Jielo Razon’s triple, to pose a threat.
Edgar Charcos then split two free throws to give Rizal a 2-point lead, but Paranaque’s Keith Pido was fouled and also went to the 15-foot line with 10 seconds left.
Pido, who ended up with 15 points, made the first free throw but missed the second, paving the way for Rizal’s fifth win in 14 games, while pulling the Patriots down to 6-8 in the single round-robin elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.
Homegrown player Troy Mallillin once again led Rizal with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks, followed by Michael Are with 13 points and Pido with 11.
Paranaque also received 15 points from Razon, all in the fourth quarter, 12 from Jayboy Solis, and 11 from Pari Llagas.
In an earlier game, Pasig City MCW Sports stunned the Bacoor City Strikers, 79-72, to improve their record to 9-5.
Ryan Costelo stood out for Pasig, contributing 26 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists as they broke away at 35-51.
He was supported by Pierce Chan with 17 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists, and Kenny Roger Rocacurva with 15 points and 8 rebounds.
Bacoor, which suffered only its second loss in 13 games, saw Mark Yee score 19 points and grab 9 rebounds, while Yvan Ludovice added 10 points.
As expected, San Juan defeated Bicol, 82-63, in the opening game to improve their record to 8-3.
Adrian Nocum led the San Juan Knights with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals, followed by Orlan Wamar with 13 points, 8 assists, and 3 steals.
Zach Huang and Egie Boy Mojica each contributed 12 points.
Bicol, with 15 points from James Martinez and 10 each from Wowie Escosio and Redel Fabro, remained winless after 14 games.
On Friday, the MPBL will be held at the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando. The schedule includes Quezon City facing Nueva Ecija at 4 p.m., Manila taking on Quezon Province at 6 p.m., and Sarangani battling Pampanga at 8 p.m.