MPBL: Pampanga brings down powerhouse Davao Occi

Playing on and off in the MPBL Lakan Season, the Pampanga Giant Lanterns proved they belong among the elite squads when they turned back reigning southern division champion Davao Occidental Tigers late Thursday night at the Angeles University Foundation Arena here.

Michael Juico had a rare double-double performance for the ADG Construction-backed Giant Lanterns as he pumped in 14 points and 11 rebounds while leading his squad to their eighth win in 12 games and fortified their hold of the fifth spot of the tough northern division put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.

Michael Juico of the Pampanga Lanterns (MPBL photo)
Michael Juico of the Pampanga Lanterns (MPBL photo)

The Giant Lanterns held their rivals scoreless in the final two minutes then Juico, Felix Apreku and Levy Hernandez sealed Pampanga’s latest win by knocking down crucial free throws down the stretch as they handed the Cocolife-backed Tigers only their second loss in 12 games in the tournament.

In losing to Pampanga, Davao Occidental now shared the lead with General Santos City in the southern division of the fastest growing regional amateur basketball league.

Earlier, former PBA Rookie of the Year Gerry Esplana returned as coach of Valenzuela and quickly towed the Classic back on the winning track following a 73-67 triumph over the Imus Bandera.

Esplana, who quit as mentor of the squad due to internal conflict in the team, was persuaded by the management to return on the condition that he’ll have total control in the team’s direction.

In his comeback, Esplana helped the Classic in snapping an eight-game losing binge and giving the team its fifth win in 13 games.

Navotas also broke out of slump when it vented its ire against winless SOCCSKSARGEN, 88-82.

Following its latest triumph, the Clutch of Navotas snapped a five-game skid and picked up their third win in 10 games.