There’s more to Pasig than their Jeric Teng and Robbie Manalang-led perimeter offense.
Flaunting their suffocating defense, the Pasig Sta. Lucia Realtors shackled the visiting Rizal Golden Coolers in the deciding quarter to hack out a 78-72 triumph in their Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Season clash, Tuesday night inside the Pasig Sports Center.
As the Golden Coolers missed from the perimeter and even from point-blank range in the final quarter, the Realtors notched their first back-to-back wins in the MPBL since joining the league in the 2018-19 Datu Cup. Pasig thus clinched its third victory of the tournament in five starts behind the gutsy plays of Manalang, Argel Mendoza, Josan Nimes and hometown favorite Richard Velchez.
Playing under new management, the Realtors are a victory away from matching their woeful four-win output – out of 25 games – from last season.
Manalang gave his squad its biggest lead at 6:11 mark of the fourth quarter at 73-65 with a booming three-pointer. Rizal, on the other hand, went scoreless for a five-minute stretch as Pasig held on defensively, clogging the paint and denying the passing lanes.
A three-pointer from Mark Benitez with 1:10 remaining drew the Jayvee Gayoso-mentored Rizal squad closer, 75-72. After a missed three from Manalang, the Golden Coolers flubbed two chances to cut the deficit to a single digit after botched field goal attempts from Joemari Lacastesantos and Rexander Leynes with less than 30 seconds left on the clock.
Free throws by Jeric Serrano and Nimes sealed the verdict in favor of the Bong Dela Cruz-mentored squad, to the delight of the raucous home crowd who again filled up the famed Pasig sporting venue.
Manalang paced the Realtors with 18 points on 6-of-11 (54%) shooting from the three-point arc. Mendoza added 13 markers, while Nimes and Velchez tallied 11 apiece.
Buenaventura Raflores Jr. finished with an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double for Rizal, who have lost for the third straight time after splitting their first two matches. Benitez also turned in a double-double consisting of 13 markers and 10 boards.