The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Rajah Cup semifinalists Valenzuela Classic dealt another preseason loss to the league newcomer Pasig Pirates, 96-88, Wednesday night at the THOA Court in Valenzuela.
The visiting Pirates came out of the gates firing, posting an 11-2 advantage in the opening three minutes of the game. The Gameville-backed squad continued their assault from three-point country, hitting five three straight pointers and closing the first quarter with a 16-point lead, 26-10.
“Sinabi ko lang sa mga players namin eh relax lang, papasok din naman yung mga shots naming,” Classic head coach Chris Gavina told FOXSports.PH. “Medyo naging lax din kami sa depensa.”
Then things changed when Paulo Hubalde, who was poked in the eye in the very first possession of the game, came back in the second quarter.
Hubalde and backcourt partner Rocky Acidre connived to cut the Pasig lead down to four midway through the second quarter. Hubalde was the pivot in the Classic’s full court press and kept the offense flowing. Acidre caught fire as he was able to hit three corner treys in succession for Valenzuela.
At the 3:15 mark of the second quarter, the Classic took the lead off a 5-0 run and they never looked back.
Kojack Melegrito kept things close for the Pirates in the second half, but the firepower of the Classic was too much for the expansion team.
“I think we have to really learn from the past two (tune up) games, na ready na dapat kami from the opening tip,” Gavina said. “Para di namin kailangan humamabol ng 10, 12 points — kami kaagad yung makabwelo next time.”
The Classic has two more scheduled tune up games in the coming days. The Pasig Pirates, meanwhile, will be officially welcoming former Letran Knight Boyet Baustista to their team in their next game.