MPBL: Iloilo, Valenzuela, Navotas triumphant over rivals

Expansion team Iloilo added powerhouse Bataan to its growing list of victims in the MPBL Lakan Season as the United Royals outlasted the Risers, 84-78, for their second win in as many games.

Richard Escoto presided on the team’s offense, finishing with a double-double performance of 19 points and 11 rebounds while leading the United Royals to a morale-boosting victory over his former squad. Escoto along with head coach Eric Gonzales were some of the former members of last season’s Risers’ squad.

Local boy Aaron Jeruta also tallied 19 markers while ex-pro Samboy de Leon added 16 points as Iloilo continues its Cinderella Run in the fastest growing regional amateur basketball tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.

Iloilo’s latest triumph overshadowed victories posted by Valenzuela and Navotas in the other games.

Playing Bacolod in a battle between two teams being bankrolled by sardine brands, the Unipak-backed Navotas team rallied from 19 points down before defeating their rivals being supported by Master Sardines, 78-69.

Allan Evangelista, a forgotten man who has become a part of the last University of Santo Tomas’ champion team in 2006, played his biggest game since making a return in the local cage circuit. He finished with 14 points and eight boards.

Valenzuela, on the other hand, booked its second straight win, this time by picking up a road win over host squad Quezon City, 70-65.

Paolo Hubalde stepped up on offense anew, ending up with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.

The son of former PBA MVP Freddie Hubalde wasn’t just the second generation player who performed well for the SVP TOP Marketplace-supported Classic as Onin Catacutan, whose dad, former Tanduay and Great Taste player Israel Catacutan, came up with yet another solid game.

The young Catacutan came a point away from completing a double-double performance as he tallied nine points on top of 10 rebounds.