Robin Rono poured in seven points in overtime, including the game-winning basket, to lift Quezon Province past Nueva Ecija, 87-86, in an OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season thriller on Thursday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.
Known for his long-range bombing, Rono pulled off a surprise drive and drew a foul with two seconds left. Intentionally missing the accompanying free throw, he gave Quezon its 15th win against six losses as time ran out on Nueva Ecija, the reigning national champion.
It was also a Rono show in regulation as the former National University Bulldog buried a triple to push the Quezon Huskers ahead, 77-74, with seven seconds left. However, Nueva Ecija’s Jay Collado countered with a triple from the deep corner to force the extension, only for the Rice Vanguards to absorb their second straight loss and drop to 18-4 in the round-robin elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.
Rono ended up with 19 points, laced with five triples, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals to earn the best player honors. He received support from RJ Minerva with 16 points and 13 rebounds, Raffy Verano with 12 points, Alfrancis Tamsi with 11 (including a clutch triple in overtime), and Jason Opiso with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Nueva Ecija got 18 points and rebounds from Will McAloney, 16 points each from Michael Mabulac and Michael Juico, and 13 from Roi Sumang.
In the opener, the Bataan Risers routed the Paranaque Patriots, 92-56, while the Rizal XentroMall Golden Coolers foiled the Laguna Krah Asia Heroes, 75-71, in the second game.
Bataan climbed to 10-12 through the efforts of Yves Sazon with 16 points and Robbi Darang, James Castro, Dominick Vera, and Arvie Bringas with 10 points each.
Paranaque, which skidded to 9-14, got 14 points from Keith Pido and 11 from James Abugan.
Rizal improved to 10-13 behind the guns of Jonas Tibayan with 12 points, Michael Are with 11, and 10 each from Alvin Capobres and Troy Mallillin.
Laguna fell to 3-20 despite the 20-point effort of Paolo Quiminales, the 14-point output of Dexter Mescallado, and the 12-point contribution of Jerome Garcia.
The MPBL returns to the Muntinlupa Sports Complex on Friday with a triple bill pitting Valenzuela against GenSan at 4 p.m., Makati against Pampanga at 6 p.m., and Caloocan against Muntinlupa at 8 p.m.