Mindoreño pride indeed.
Expansion squad Mindoro Tamaraws carved out an inspired 94-73 victory over the Cebu Sharks in the Tuesday night opener of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Season, held for the third time inside the Pasig Sports Center.
With team owner and head coach Justin Tan inserting four homegrown bets in his starting five, the Tamaraws shook off a slow start in the opening frame to outwork and outscore the Casino Ethyl Alcohol-backed Sharks in the next three quarters, 74-47.
Rodel Vaygan, who hails from Gloria, Oriental Mindoro, exploded from the perimeter with six three-pointers to finish with a game-high 30 markers, along with six rebounds.
Joining Vaygan and former pro, Mac Baracael, in Mindoro’s rejigged starting lineup were local players Kerr Bangeles, Khen Osicos and Luigi Natada.
From a 47-40 lead at half time, the Tamaraws went off on a rampage in the third quarter with a volley of three-pointers. Baracael’s triple at the 5:06 mark of the said frame gave Mindoro a commanding 65-47 advantage.
In the final frame, the Tamaraws extended the lead to its largest at 24, 83-59, on a layup by Vaygan. A 10-0 run by the Norberto Manalili-mentored squad cut the deficit down 10, capped by a layup from Eloy Poligrates at the final 3:36. The Tamaraws would then respond with an 11-4 windup to secure their second victory in five contests.
In his maiden MPBL victory, Tan paid homage to his Mindoreño-powered starting crew, which set the tone early for his ball club against a taller Cebu frontline.
“Malaking advantage kasi na-boost yung confidence ng team. Lalo na nung nakita nila naglaro yung homegrown nung simula,” said Tan.
Baracael finished with 14 markers, while Kim Cinco and Sandy Ceñal chipped in 10 markers apiece.
Overall, the Tamaraws connected on 13 of their 27 three-point attempts for a whopping 48.1% rate. The Sharks struggled from beyond the arc, hitting just 3-of-24 (12.5%).
Leading the way for Cebu was Rhaffy Octobre who tallied 18 points and six rebounds. William McAloney came away with a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double performance for the Sharks, whose win-loss record dropped to 3-4.