The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League visited Bataan People’s Center last night for another double header featuring their hometown Bataan Defenders in the main game.
The first game pitted a Muntinlupa Cagers (2-1) team looking for a share of the lead against the Bulacan Kuyas (1-2) who were looking to regain their preseason form. Meanwhile, the Defenders (0-3) hosted the Caloocan Supremos (0-3) in a game which will break one of the three remaining winless teams into the win column.
Muntinlupa Cagers 75 – 71 Bulacan Kuyas
A back and forth start to the game saw the Kuyas hang tight with the Cagers with a Chris Baluyot three-pointer tying the game at 14 apiece with just over two minutes left in the opening frame. However, the Cagers would finish the quarter strong, ending it with a 12-4 spurt that gave them the early lead, 26-18. It would be the same story in the second, as they cut the deficit to three only to finish miserably once more as the lead ballooned to 16, 48-32.
The Kuyas would make a game out of it in the fourth, as they rallied to stay within striking distance with just under four minutes left in the game behind the heroics of James Martinez and JR Taganas. After Al Vergara split his free throws for the Cagers, Taganas quickly made a layup that cut the deficit to two with just under 10 seconds remaining. However, they couldn’t get a defensive stop as Felix Apreku broke away from the Kuyas’ press for the final score, 75-71.
Chito Jaime again had a strong showing for the Cagers with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocked shots en route to being named the player of the game. Al Vergara had 8 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals in 30 minutes to provide a steady captian to their ship with Egay Billiones not seeing action in this game. For the Kuyas, Jorey Napoles filled the box score with 12 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks while James Martinez and Stephen Siruma finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The win vaulted Muntinlupa to solo third with a 3-1 slate behind undefeated teams Quezon City and Batangas, while Bulacan continues to seek answers as they absorbed their third straight defeat for a 1-3 record.
Bataan Defenders 69 – Caloocan Supremos 76
The Defenders got off to a hot start courtesy of an aggressive Arvie Bringas to put them up 6-0 early. However, Marlon Adolfo of the Supremos quickly erased the deficit as they traded for control of the game before a strong finish saw the Caloocan in the driver seat,16-25. The Defenders would come back though, as they rallied in the second to cut the deficit to one by halftime, 37-38.
They would briefly hold the lead and later tie the game at 46, but another uninspired close to the third gave the Supremos an 8-point lead heading into the final quarter. Al Carlos was a spark off the bench as he helped set the stage for Gary David to give the Defenders a one point lead off an and-1 opportunity with just under three minutes left in the game. It would be their last field goal of the game though, as the Supremos pulled away for the final tally.
Marlon Adolfo led the Supremos in scoring with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, but it was Mar Villahermosa who would get player of the game honors with 14 points, 8 assists, and 3 steals. For the first time in the tournament, David (10 points) was outscored by two other Defenders in James Castro (14 points) and Jay Sierra (13 points).
The win further dampens the Defenders’ hopes of making it to the playoffs, while the Supremos keep their faint chances alive.
Action resumes on Thursday, February 15 at the Olivarez College Gymnasium in Paranaque as the Valenzuela Classic (2-1) take on the winless Imus Bandera (0-3) and the host city Paraňaque Patriots (2-1) look to stop the Quezon City Capitals’ three-game win streak. Games can be seen live on MPBL’s official Facebook page.