The streak keeps on going for Muntinlupa and Imus and on Thursday night the two teams pulled off contrasting wins over their respective rivals in the MPBL Datu Cup at the Imus Sports Complex here.
The Angelis Resort-backed Cagers survived a near meltdown before holding on to a 77-76 win over the Parañaque Patriots-F2 Logistics.
Muntinlupa had to hold its breath before waiting to notch its seventh straight win as it squandered a 31-point lead in the third period and watched Parañaque to chop the lead slowly but surely. The Cagers were still comfortably ahead, 73-50, inside the final seven-minute mark when the Patriots let their defense do the work, holding their rivals to just a lone field goal.
Ryusei Koga came through with a triple then completed a steal, setting up Ivan Valenzuela for two free throws for a 77-74 count with only five seconds left in the game.
Koga gave up a duty foul to stop the clock, but put more pressure on Chito Jaime to make at least one of his two free throws.
The ex-pro forward missed the first, then made the second then Harold Arboleda let loose a triple that went in as time expired, making Jaime’s split charities earlier more significant.
Arboleda led all scorers with 21 points, but he also contributed 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double performance in the league, the most completed by any player in the young two-season history of the fastest growing regional amateur basketball league in the country.
Muntinlupa coach Aldrin Morante admitted that his wards relaxed too much when it built a big lead, but blamed himself as well for experimenting on using different combinations, particularly in giving more playing time to the second stringers.
In the nightcap, Imus streaked to its fourth straight win after outplaying Pampanga, 88-76, to improve its win-loss record to 5-3 and forged a tie for the second spot in the Southern Division of this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
The GLC Truck and Equipment-supported Bandera, however, needed to survive a 36-point explosion from Juneric Baloria before extending its winning streak.
Baloria’s 36 markers are the new all-time record for most points in a game.