Bacoor City Strikers waxed hot from afar and pounded the boards to trounce the Makati City MNL Kingpins, 84-56, on Tuesday in the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) presented by Xtreme at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan City.
Led by Paolo Castro, who knocked in 3 of 4 three-point attempts, the Strikers hit half of their 24 shots from downtown while posting a telling 52-33 edge in rebounds on the way to their second win in four starts in the single round-robin elimination round of the 22-team, two-division tournament.
Castro wound up with 11 points, the same as Mark Mantuano, who also collared 10 rebounds for the Strikers. Lester Reyes, Mark Pangilinan and Rocky Acidre provided support with 9 points each.
Hardly threatened by the Kingpins, Bacoor Coach Rey Mendez had the luxury of shuffling his 15 players, all of whom contributed 2 points or more.
In contrast, none of the 13 players used by Makati Coach Vis Valencia was able to score in double figures, with Larry Arpia, Kenz Rei Diokno and Kobe Bryant Pableo chipping in 9 points each.
The Strikers’ bench outscored their Kingpins’ counterparts, 51-18, as Bacoor sealed the outcome midway through the fourth quarter, 75-42.
Makati suffered its sixth straight defeat and tumbled to 1-7.
The MPBL returns to the Orion Sports Complex on Saturday, July 9 for another triple-bill. Pasig tackles Rizal at 5 p.m., followed by the Zamboanga-Sarangani tussle at 7 p.m. and the Bataan-Bacolod collision at 9 p.m.
Nico Elorde on PBA comeback bid
Nico Elorde did not deny a PBA comeback is definitely on his plan, but helping the GenSan Warriors in their MPBL campaign is his top priority now.
The 30-year-old Elorde has found a new home with the Warriors after failing to reach an agreement with NorthPort management on a new contract prior to the start of PBA Season 47.
And while he still looks forward to taking his act to Asia’s first-ever play-for-pay league in the future, GenSan definitely has his attention right now.
“Galing na tayo dun (PBA). Syempre gusto natin makabalik sa PBA. Yan ang no. 1 league sa Pilipinas, e,” said Elorde.
“Pero masaya ako sa MPBL. Binigyan nila ako ng chance to play again professionally. I’m just taking it day by day and happy that I was given the chance to play again the game I love.”
The grandson of the late boxing great Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde did not come to terms with NorthPort on the length of his supposed new contract, leaving him without a team for the season-opening Philippine Cup.
However, sources learned that the Batang Pier and Elorde almost agreed to a new contract prior to the start of the season. Apparently, the development came a bit late as NorthPort already submitted its official lineup to the league by then.
Elorde eventually ended up agreeing to play with the Warriors after staying in playing condition by training with former Phoenix guard Mike Gamboa to improve his conditioning and offensive skills.
He was signed up on June 12 and made his debut with GenSan two days after.
“During my first practice (with them), nabagsakan yung kamay ko. Parang na-sprain siya, kaya hindi ako makatira,” said Elorde.
Despite the pain, he made his MPBL debut in a 79-77 overtime loss to Sarangani Marlins as Elorde finished with seven points and three assists.
Victory finally came his way against Quezon City in a 114-83 blowout last July 2, with Elorde contributing nine points, three rebounds, and six assists.
The Warriors currently occupy sixth spot in the Southern Division with a 2-4 record.
And while GenSan still has a long way to go in order to compete with top contenders like Batangas City Embassy Chill and Zamboanga Familys Brand Sardines in the Southern Division and Nueva Ecija Vanguards and Bataan Risers in the North, Elorde said winning a championship will always remain as the top goal.
“Gusto kong mag-champion. Yuna naman ang goal ko talaga,” he said. “Sa MPBL nandito ako ngayon so syempre gusto ko ring mag-champion. Lahat naman ng players yan ang gusto.”
And while he still looks forward to returning to the PBA, that very same goal remains for him.
“Sa NorthPort hindi pa kami nakapag-champion, pero naka semis naman kami. At least na-experience ko yung nakapag-semifinals,” he said.
“Sana hindi pa yun tapos, and sana makakuha rin ako ng championship sa PBA.”