Bacoor, Iloilo prevail

July 12, 2023 People's Tonight 352 views

BACOOR and Nueva Ecija trounced their opponents, while Iloilo stunned Zamboanga in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season on Tuesday at the Bacoor Strike Gym in Cavite.

The Bacoor Strikers clobbered the Parañaque Patriots, 83-58, to keep pace with the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, who dumped the Oriental Mindoro Disiplinados, 84-69, in the round-robin elimination phase.

While the easy victories of Bacoor and Nueva Ecija that pushed their records to 16-2 were expected, Iloilo’s triumph over Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines was a surprise.

With their roster depleted, the Iloilo United Royals relied on homegrown Omar Larupay, and Lorenzo Navarro, especially in the fourth quarter, to improve to 8-11 and rev up their drive for a playoff spot in the 29-team tournament.

A 6-foot-2 high-flyer from the University of the East and Lyceum, Larupay scored 19 points, including the insurance free throws with 13 seconds left, and grabbed 17 rebounds to earn best player honors.

Navarro, formerly of San Sebastian College and Lyceum, wound up with 14 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals as the United Royals completed their climb from a 32-45 hole in the second quarter.

Shaquille Imperial added 14 points and JR Sumido, another homegrown, contributed 13 points for Iloilo, which also drew 8 points and 12 rebounds from CJ Catapusan and 9 points plus 6 rebounds from Joshua Flores.

Zamboanga, the 2023 MPBL Invitation Preseason champion, slid to 14-4 despite the 23-point, 12-rebound effort of Dexter Maiquez and the 14-point, 10-rebound output of Judel Fuentes.

Reigning league MVP Jaycee Marcelino was held to 11 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds, while his twin, Jayvee, settled for 12 points and 7 rebounds.

Bacoor drew power from former San Beda star James Kwekuteye with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

Jimboy Pasturan, acquired from St. Benilde, notched 17 points and 2 steals, Jhan McHale Nermal 12 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists, and Mark Yee 15 rebounds plus 4 points.

Parañaque, which slipped to 7-12 got 12 and 11 points from Jielo Razon and Paolo Castro, respectively.

Nueva Ecija banked on its board dominance, 58-41, and the offensive sock of Pamboy Raymundo and Michael Mabulac to hand Oriental Mindoro its 16th loss in 19 starts.

Raymundo chalked 18 points while Mabulac added 16 plus 9 rebounds for the defending champion, which also got 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists from Chris Bitoon.

Homegrown Rodel Vaygan scored 13 points, Leo Najorda 12, Agem Miranda 11 and Christian De Chavez 10 for Oriental Mindoro.

The MPBL returns to the Batangas State University Gym on Thursday with a triple bill pitting Bacolod against Nueva Ecija at 4 p.m., Makati against Sarangani at 6 p.m., and Pampanga against Batangas at 8 p.m.