At the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando on Friday, Pampanga triumphed over Sarangani, 99-92, to demonstrate their superiority.
To the pleasure of the crowded arena, this victory extended Pampanga’s amazing winning streak in the fifth season of the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League).
The Giant Lanterns took control of the game early on, scoring 12 points in a row to go up 84-72 behind Justine Baltazar’s outstanding play.
Afterwards, Baltazar and Louie Sangalang scored nine vital points together to stop the Marlins’ final charge, leaving the score at 99-86.
With this triumph, Pampanga became the 12th consecutive team to win the 29-team tournament’s elimination round.
Sarangani’s Jeff Viernes made a brave attempt, scoring 27 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter, bringing his team within striking distance at 84-88 and 86-90 following a layup by Alex Desoyo.
Sarangani attempted a comeback, but Sangalang countered with seven points, and Baltazar added two more, ending the comeback attempt and giving Sarangani its seventh loss in 14 games.
The dominant 6-foot-8 Baltazar concluded the game with an astounding stat line of 22 points, 17 rebounds, and just missed a triple-double with 9 assists, proving why he is the league’s top scorer and rebounder.
While playing for more than 37 minutes, the former La Salle standout and Gilas player also demonstrated his defensive skills with 3 steals.
Baltazar’s teammates provided him with a lot of assistance, including Jayson Apolonio, who chipped in with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Sangalang contributed 13 points and 9 rebounds, and Kurt Reyson contributed 17 points to the team’s total. Archie Concepcion also contributed significantly, scoring 9 points and pulling down 9 rebounds.
Pampanga outrebounded Sarangani 61-37, dominating the boards.
On the other team, Viernes made a strong showing, scoring 27 points, including 6 three-pointers, while also grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists.
Benjie Jimenez scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in addition to Desoyo’s 14 points. Rommel Calahat led Sarangani with 10 points, while Jeff Comia added 11 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds.
The game did have some tense moments, though. Ammar Cosari of Sarangani and Baltazar were increasingly agitated throughout the third quarter, which resulted in an altercation.
When spectators tossed bottles into the court, the situation worsened and the game was temporarily stopped. Dennis Pineda, the governor and head coach of Pampanga, quickly stepped in to restore order by calling for security forces to clear the area of the disorderly crowd.
In other games, Nueva Ecija and Quezon Province turned around prior defeats with resounding triumphs.
Sherwin Concepcion, Kemark Carino, and Roi Sumang helped the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards defeat the Quezon City Gaz N Go with a dominant 95-53 victory, bringing their record to 12-1.
Mike Mabulac and Michael Juico both contributed significantly, scoring 14 and 11 points, correspondingly.
The Quezon Huskers defeated the Manila Stars by a score of 73-62 to improve to 9-4.
Through 18 points, Raffy Verano ran Quezon, trailed by Ximone Sandagon with 12 and Rodel Gravera with 10.