Pampanga Giant Lanterns are one win away from winning the MPBL national championship

Nov 30, 2023

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MANILA, Philippines – THE Pampanga Giant Lanterns held off the Bacoor Strikers’ comebacks to win 68-65 on Tuesday at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga, and move within a win of the MPBL Fifth Season national crown.

With the score equal at 61, Pampanga scored seven points in a row, three from Archie Concepcion and one each from MJ Garcia and Encho Serrano, to tip the scales and give the hosts a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five playoff.

On Saturday, December 2, Pampanga will attempt to sweep the Strikes in the Strike Gymnasium in Bacoor.

Pampanga won Game One, 71-58, but ran across a more determined Strikers team this time. They had an opportunity to force overtime, but James Kwekuteye missed a 3-pointer and Mark Yee couldn’t beat the buzzer for one more shot.

Concepcion, who had previously been selected for the second Mythical Team, led Pampanga with 13 points and 8 rebounds to win best player honors against newly installed MVP Justine Baltazar, who had 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Encho Serrano contributed 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, while John Lloyd Clemente and Jayson Apolonio added 7 points each for Pampanga coach Gov. Dennis Pineda.

Atoning for his dismal 2-point output in the opener, Kwekuteye poured 16 points, 12 coming in the first half as the Strikers stayed close, 29-33. By then, Baltazar had 11 points and 5 rebounds.

Chito Jaime scored 12 points for Bacoor, and Yvan Ludovice scored 11.

The game was close from start to finish, with neither team leading by more than 7 points. After three quarters, Pampanga led again, 50-49, thanks to a deep triple by Game 1 top scorer Kurt Reyson.

Who are the Pampanga Giant Lanterns? Let’s have a look.

For sponsorship reasons, the Pampanga Giant Lanterns are also known as the Pampanga Giant Lanterns – AMG3 Construction. They are a Filipino professional basketball team headquartered in the province of Pampanga. The squad now participates in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) as one of four active teams from Central Luzon, with home games held at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando.

The team debuted in the 2018-19 season. In addition, the squad has competed in the Pilipinas Super League (PSL).

The Pampanga Provincial Government owns the squad.

Pampanga was one of sixteen expansion teams in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) for the 2018-19 season. The team’s initial home games were held at the Angeles University Foundation in Angeles City. With a record of 11-14, the squad was tied for the eighth seed in the playoffs with the Caloocan Supremos. Due to the head-to-head tiebreaker, the latter edged over Pampanga, causing the Lanterns to miss the playoffs.

Pampanga’s playoff chances did not end there, as the team finished fourth with a record of 21-9 in the 2019-20 season, earning them their first playoff appearance. In the playoffs, the squad first faced its Central Luzon rivals, the Bataan Risers, whom Pampanga defeated in two games. Following that, they faced the defending champion San Juan Knights in the Division Semifinals, which San Juan won in two games.

Pampanga’s arena moved from Angeles City to San Fernando for the 2022 season, where they currently play in the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center. Pampanga finished fourth that season with a 14-7 record. The team faced Bataan in the First Round once more, but this time Bataan won game 2 in overtime to force a third game. Even so, Pampanga defeated Bataan in game 3 to progress to the Division Semifinals. They subsequently faced another Central Luzon rival, this time the unbeaten Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, who would once again knock Pampanga out of the playoffs. That season, Archie Concepcion was also named Homegrown Player of the Year.

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