MPBL: Manila sparkles; Marikina, Batangas City triumph

BALANGA – Manila overpowers Makati, 64-56, in the battle of Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) biggies Saturday night at firmed up its hold of the solo second spot of the ongoing Lakan Season at the People’s Center here.

Engaged in a defensive struggle by the Super Crunch, the Stars put the clamps down on their rivals in the fourth period, holding them to just nine points in the last 10 minutes on their way to notching their 11th win in 13 games in the tough northern division of this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.

Gabby Espinas and Gian Abrigo combined forces and put up 21 points and nine rebounds together, but the rest of the Stars were also more busy forcing turnovers on their rivals, who turned the ball over 23 times.

Makati absorbed its third loss in 13 games and slipped to No.3 spot of the northern division of the fastest growing regional amateur basketball league.

Marikina stunned Navotas, 88-80, as Yves Sazon and Chris Calaguio kept their guns blazing.

Sazon erupted for 23 points, including four three-point shots.

Calaguio, plucked out from retirement since last playing for San Miguel Beer more than a decade ago, added 13 markers for the Shoemasters, who just picked up only their second win in 14 games. Despite the win, Marikina remained at the bottom of the northern division.

Jondan Salvador ended up with an unusual double-double showing as he grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out 11 assists.

Batangas City survived a gritty Bataan team which played with only eight players, 73-69.

The Risers paraded a team with a new set of management and coaching staff, headed by Jonas Villanueva and assisted by Ogie Gumatay, but their inspired performance was not enough to edge the inaugural staging champions, which drew solid games from Jason Melano and Val Acuna, who combined for 30 markers.

Following its latest win, Batangas City climbed its way up to fourth spot of the southern division with an 8-4 win-loss mark. Bataan absorbed its seventh loss in 13 games.