Zamboanga and Marikina struggled past their opponents, while Nueva Ecija tallied another easy victory in the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme on Monday at the Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex in Laguna.
Getting the pivotal points from Jaycee Marcelino, Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines thwarted Muntinlupa, 80-77, while Marikina banked on Antonio Lorenzo Joson to subdue Makati, 81-70, in the single round-robin elimination phase of the 22-team tournament.
The powerhouse Nueva Ecija Vanguards opened with eight straight points and were never headed en route to an 83-64 dumping of the Rizal Xentromall Golden Coolers that pushed them to a 16-0 card.
Nueva Ecija’s Jonathan Uyloan scored 15 points and Byron Villarias posted 11 to become the 7th member of the 1,000-point club.
Those who made it ahead of Villarias were John Wilson, formerly of San Juan, Mark Yee of Bacolod Bingo Plus, Yves Sazon, who got released by Marikina, Juneric Baloria of Batangas City and Nueva Ecija’s Michael Juico and Jay Collado.
Marcelino poured 9 points in an 11-3 run to push Zamboanga ahead, 75-67, in the fourth quarter on the way to its 11th win against three losses.
Chito Jaime rediscovered his touch and led Zamboanga with 18 points, followed by Marcelino with 15 and Ralph Tansingco with 12.
Muntinlupa got 18 points from Domark Matillano and 17 each from Max Morilla and John Cantimbuhan Jr. but still dropped to 2-9.
Joson drilled in 9 points of his game-high 24 in the last 4 minutes and 50 seconds to power Marikina to a 4-10 card. Other Shoemaster in double digits were Jason Opiso with 16 plus 11 rebounds, Ryan Isaac Sual with 14 and Dexter Mescallado with 12.
Makati, which fell to 1-15, drew 17 points from Kenz Rei Diokno and 12 from Mark Lester Sta. Maria.
The MPBL returns to the Orion Sports Complex on Tuesday with another triple-bill featuring Caloocan against Imus at 5 p.m., Batangas against Bacoor at 7 p.m. and Quezon City against Bataan at 9 p.m.