Muntinlupa shook off the rust of not seeing action for quite sometime and it took awhile before turning back Rizal, 84-80, in the MPBL Datu Cup.
Allan Mangahas went an assist away from posting a double-double performance as he came away with 23 points and nine rebounds to power the Angelis Resort-backed Cagers to their fourth win in as many games. Muntinlupa is the only other undefeated squad in the tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and league former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
This was only the Cagers’ fourth game as two of their supposed matches were rescheduled. Their game against the Pasig Pirates were reset due to heavy downpour and flooding in the metropolis while their match against the Navotas Clutch was halted in the final 1:35 of the overtime period when the rim broke lose.
In the main game, a new look Imus Bandera showed up and stayed tougher in outlasting the Makati Skyscrapers, 79-76.
The GLC Truck and Equipment-backed Bandera made a last-minute coaching change prior to their game against the Skyscrapers as PBA legend Jerry Codiñera stepped down as head coach. Filling in the void left by The Defense Minister was ex-pro Mike Orquillas, who guided the team in picking up their second win in five games.
Orquillas, however, deflected credit to Codiñera, who was in charge of running the practices until the eve of their game against Makati.
“Si Coach Jerry pa rin ang nag-prepare para sa team so sinunod ko lang yung game plan niya,” added Orquillas. “Interim lang ang position ko dito.”
The Bandera turned to top gun Ian Melencio, who delivered crucial baskets in staving off repeated uprising by Makati.
The Bandera built a 13-point lead in the third period following a Genmar Bragais basket, 48-35, in the 5:18 mark, but the Skyscrapers clawed their way back and made a game out of it heading crunch time.
With the game knotted at the last time at 70-all, with still 3:42 left in the game, John Paul Manansala and Melencio came up with big baskets.
Manansala came away with a lay up after the Bandera broke free from the pressure defense of the Skyscrapers. After an unprodcutive thrust from Makati, Imus went to Melencio, who knocked down a cold blooded trey to give his squad a 75-70 lead with 2:56 left in the match.