In the fifth season of the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League), played at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan, San Juan continued its winning streak while Bacoor regained its explosive form.
The overhauled San Juan Knights conquered the veteran-heavy Caloocan Batang Kankaloo, 76-68, to progress to 3-0 in the competition’s single round-robin elimination stage.
After losing to Caloocan at home on April 17, the Bacoor Strikers defeated the sluggish Quezon City Gaz N Go, 93-58, to improve to 5-1 and move closer to the two sluggish pacesetters, Nueva Ecija and Quezon Province, both of which have 6-0 records.
James Kwekuteye, a former star for San Beda, and Jimboy Pasturan, a former stalwart for St. Benilde, gave Bacoor a boost in the second half as they put on the heat for a coast-to-coast triumph.
For Coach Alex Angeles, who had the luxury of switching around 14 players, all of whom scored, Kwekuteye finished with 21 points, four rebounds, three steals, and two assists, while Pasturan concluded with 11 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
After an initial triumph, Quezon City lost its sixth game in a row because none of its players could score in double figures.
Michael Calisaan and Orlan Wamar helped San Juan overturn a 41–48 deficit and establish a 64–54 lead going into the final five minutes.
For the Knights, the MPBL Datu Cup champions who are thriving even without many of its former stars, Calisaan scored 20 points, including 12 in the third quarter, and pulled down 10 rebounds. Wamar chipped in with 15 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.
Nikko Panganiban contributed with 11 points and six rebounds for Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who has taken over as the head coach for San Juan.
Despite Gabby Espinas’ 18 points and eight rebounds, Caloocan lost 3-2.
After losing six straight games, Oriental Mindoro miraculously recovered from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter to shock Sarangani, 107-97.
Sherwin Concepcion scored 15 of his 26 points and Agem Miranda scored 17 of his game-high 33 points during that stretch, giving the Disiplinados an 81-78 lead.
The former Jose Rizal University standout Miranda, who is 6 feet 1, recorded a triple-double with 13 assists and 11 rebounds, while the former University of Santo Tomas point guard Concepcion, 6 feet 2, recorded a double-double with 10 rebounds.
During the San Juan-Caloocan game’s halftime break, Avenelle John Alecaide won a Suzuki Avenis by making his second half-court attempt. Alecaide, a resident of Barangay Claro in Quezon City, won a motorcycle in the Suzuki Halfcourt Shot Challenge for the third time.
Meanwhile, Pampanga and Laguna will play in the following MPBL game on Tuesday at the Imus City Sports Complex.