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MPBL: Serrano, Baltazar link up as Pampanga whips Rizal for solo lead


Pampanga cruised to its 14th straight win, while San Juan sustained its climb in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) on Tuesday at the FilOil Ecooil Centre in San Juan.

Leaning on prized acquisition Encho Serrano and towering Justine Baltazar, the Pampanga Giant Lanterns posted a wire-to-wire 93-80 victory over the Rizal XentroMall Golden Coolers, securing the top spot in the single-robin elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.

Serrano contributed 23 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds, while the 6-foot-8 Baltazar showcased his versatility with 11 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks, and 2 steals.

Archie Concepcion supported them with 13 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds, followed by Jayson Castro Apolonio with 12 points and 9 rebounds, along with newcomer John Lloyd Clemente who added 9 points.

Pampanga surged ahead, 42-25, and was never in trouble against Rizal, despite the efforts of homegrown J-Boy Gob, who scored 27 points (including 7 triples), and Jeric James Pido, who contributed 12 points. However, Rizal fell to 6-10.

In the nightcap, the San Juan Knights displayed balanced firepower as they subdued the Imus SV Squad, 93-82, securing their fourth straight triumph and climbing to 11-3.

Adrian Nocum, a mainstay of Mapua University, led the way with 15 points, supported by six other Knights who reached double digits.

Orlan Wamar notched 12 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds, Michael Calisaan scored 11 points and grabbed 6 rebounds, Taywan contributed 11 points (including 3 triples), while Paolo Javillonar, Egie Boy Mojica, and Nikko Panganiban each added 10 points for San Juan under the guidance of Coach Randy Alcantara.

Imus, despite Jaymar Gimpayan’s 23 points and 10 rebounds, Bryan Faundo’s 15 points and 3 rebounds, and Jimboy Estrada’s 13 points and 7 assists, dropped to 6-8.

#ReadMore  Jeron Teng continues to balance school and basketball

In the opener, Valenzuela XUR Homes Realty Inc. bested Bicol, 82-78, with Michael Angelo Macion’s 20-point and 13-rebound effort, improving their record to 3-12. Bicol, yet to win after 16 starts, received 13 points and 12 rebounds from Wowie Escosio.

The MPBL will visit the Bacoor Strike Gym on Wednesday, featuring a triple bill: Laguna against Mindoro at 4 p.m., Manila against Pasig at 6 p.m., and Pasay against Bacoor at 8 p.m.

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