PAMPANGA rode on two scoring spurts to thwart Sarangani, 99-92, on Friday and extend its hot streak in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the packed Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando.
Powered by Justine Baltazar, the Giant Lanterns greeted the first quarter with a 12-point salvo to pull away, 84-72, then bunched 9 points behind Louie Sangalang and Baltazar to defuse the Marlins, final rally, 99-86, and seal their 12th straight win in the elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.
With Jeff Viernes pouring 8 of his game-high 27 points, Sarangani moved to within 84-88 and again at 86-90 on a lay-up by Alex Desoyo.
Sangalang, however, piled seven points and Baltazar added two to pull down the Marlins to their seventh loss in 14 games.
Showing why he’s the league’s leading scorer and rebounder, the 6-foot-8 Baltazar ended up with 22 points and 17 rebounds and barely missed a triple-double with 9 assists.
The former La Salle star and Gilas member also had 3 steals after more than 37 minutes of play.
Jayson Castro Apolonio supported Baltazar with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals, followed by Kurt Reyson with 17 points and Sangalang with 13 points plus 9 rebounds.
Archie Concepcion also did his part with 9 points and 9 rebounds for Pampanga, which ruled the boards, 61-37.
Viernes posted 27 points, including 6 triples, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, followed by Desoyo with 14 points and Benjie Jimenez with 13 points and 8 rebounds.
Sarangani also got 11 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds from Jefferson Comia and 10 from Rommel Calahat.
Reinforced Nueva Ecija and Quezon Province trounced their opponents to rebound from losses in their previous games.
The Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards bolstered by Sherwin Concepcion, Kemark Carino and Roi Sumang, dumped Quezon City Gaz N Go, 95-53, in the opener to climb to 12-1.
Concepcion, former star gunner of Oriental Mindoro, made an instant impact with 15 points and so did the 6-foot-8 Carino with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Mike Juico scored 14 points and Mike Mabulac added 11.
Orin Catacutan, another prized acquisition, did not see action.
The Quezon Huskers, with Jason Opiso and Robin Rono in tow, subdued the Manila Stars, 73-62, to rise to 9-4.
Raffy Verano paced Quezon with 18 points, followed by Ximone Sandagon with 12 and Rodel Gravera 10.