Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines quelled San Juan’s final assault and prevailed, 80-66, on Saturday in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the FiloIl Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
With their lead cut to 60-65, the Zamboanguenos regrouped behind twins Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino, John Mahari, and Joseph Gabayni. They secured their 16th win against six losses, 76-62, with only 1 minute and 32 seconds left.
Responding to the guidance of new Coach Louie Alas, the Zamboanguenos erased a 24-35 deficit, gained control by the end of the third quarter, 57-51, and proceeded to snap San Juan’s 11-game winning run, pulling down the Knights to 18-4 in the round-robin elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.
The burly Gabayni presided over Zamboanga’s balanced offense with 13 points and 6 rebounds, followed by former Knight Judel Fuentes with 12 points plus 7 rebounds, the Marcelinos with 11 points each, and former Letran star King Caralipio with 10 points plus 8 rebounds. This helped the Zamboanguenos dominate the boards, 53-43.
It was a pleasant start for Alas, a multi-titled coach with Letran in the NCAA, the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association, the Philippine team, and the ASEAN Basketball League, who had to make do without suspended Zamboanga big men Dexter Maiquez and Chris Dumapig.
San Juan got 18 points from Marwin Taywan, 17 points, 5 rebounds plus 4 steals from Adrian Nocum, and 12 points, 9 rebounds plus 5 assists from Orlan Wamar.
In other games, Pasay turned back Negros, 79-73, while Iloilo trounced Quezon City, 77-51.
The Pasay Voyagers banked on AJ Coronel, homegrown Axel Inigo, Laurenz Victoria, and Rommel Mangalino to halt a four-game slide and improve their record to 13-9.
Coronel fired 18 points, Inigo scored 15 points with 6 assists plus 3 steals, Victoria had 15 points with 5 assists plus 3 steals, and Mangalino contributed 11 points plus 5 rebounds.
The Negros Muscovados tumbled to 8-14 despite the 21-point, 10-rebound effort of Jason Melano and the 16-point, 8-rebound output of Leo James Ingles.
The Iloilo United Royals pulled away at 67-33 en route to their third straight win and a 10-12 slate.
Homegrown Omar Larupay led Iloilo with 11 points plus 12 rebounds, followed by JR Ongteco with 12 points plus 9 rebounds and JR Sumido with 10 points.
The MPBL visits the Ynares Sports Arena on Monday with a triple bill, pitting Bicol against Marikina at 4 p.m., Bacoor against Bacolod at 6 p.m., and Sarangani against Rizal at 8 p.m.