MPBL: Mark Cruz leads Pampanga to a decisive win at home

Bob Guerrero on Aug 15, 2019 09:49 AM
MPBL: Cruz leads Pampanga to a decisive win at home
"Importante talaga ang panalong ito para tuluy-tuloy ang momentum sa next games." - Mark Cruz

The Pampanga Giant Lanterns - ADG Group of Companies shimmered brightly on Wednesday night, as they outplayed the Mindoro Tamaraws 85-78 in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season.

A large and appreciative crowd at the Angeles University Foundation Gymnasium enjoyed a solid night from their team, who improve to 6-3 in the standings and maintain a perfect 3-0 record at home.

The scoreline is hardly indicative of how much the Giant Lanterns dominated the game. Mike Juico's 18 points led Pampanga but Mark Cruz got the best player award with 12 points and 10 assists.

"Importante talaga ang panalong ito para tuluy-tuloy ang momentum sa next games," said Cruz.

As a team Mindoro seemed to leave their shooting touch in Calapan in the first half. They went six for 31 in the first 20 minutes from the field, for a measly 15 points against 36 from the Giant Lanterns at the half.

The Tams came to life in the third with a few runs and a pair of Joseph Brutas triples but Juico and his buddies were on song and the third period ended with Pampanga leading, 59-41.

In the first minute of the fourth, Mindoro went on an 8-0 run with triples from K Cinco, Brutas, and a bucket from Camacho to cut the lead to 59-49. The eight points equalled the team's whole output for the entire first quarter.

But a 12-4 run by the Lanterns, spiked by a pair of Travis Thompson triples, helped restore order. Mindoro made the score respectable with a late 14-4 run that included a rare 4-point play from Rodel Vaygan, but Pampanga, with four fourth-quarter triples, was just too good.

Mindoro drops to 3-6 despite a 16-point night from Vaygan and 11 from Mac Baracael, who returned after missing their last match.

In the early evening match-up the Iloilo United Royals bucked a sluggish start to down the Bulacan Kuyas, 83-73.

Iloilo led 28-24 at the half in a low-scoring game where neither team could shoot more than 30 percent from the field. Seven points from John Mahari and six from Rey Publico in the third gave the Royals a 54-45 lead at the start of the fourth.

Iloilo fended off a stiff fourth quarter challenge from the Kuyas with eight points from Richard Escoto and back to back triples from Al Tamsi to level their mark at 5-5, the same slate now as Bulacan.

Eric Rodriguez's workmanlike 10 points earned him the player of the game award but Escoto's 14 points led his team. Kuya JR Alabanza had a game-high 18 markers.

Wednesday's action started with a game that wouldn't be appreciated by defensive purists. Manila Stars - Frontrow overwhelmed the Biñan City Krah Heroes, 106-93.

Manila were hot out of the gates, with Chris Bitoon and Carlo Lastimosa chipping in nine first quarter points apiece to lead the Stars to a huge 38-17 advantage after one quarter. Allan Mangahas and the other Krah snipers got the lead down to ten at one point but went into the locker room down 54-38.

Biñan were unable to come up with enough stops as they allowed 28 Manila points in the third. Krah's 34 points in the fourth was mere window-dressing as the team slumps to 4-7. Manila wins a sixth game in a row to go 8-1. The Stars saw five players get double figures in points led by Bitoon's 22. James Mangahas led the Laguñenos with 18 markers.

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