It was Mark Cruz’s turn to shine as he powered Batangas City to a 75-66 win over Sarangani in the OKbet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League 4th Season late Tuesday at the Batangas City Coliseum.
Cruz knocked in seven straight points in the last two minutes to lift the Athletics to the thrilling victory in a battle between South division pacesetters.
Cedric Ablaza drilled in a triple with 36 seconds left for the final count that handed Batangas a 13-1 record in the single-round robin eliminations of this 22-team tournament.
Cruz wound up with 13 points and nine rebounds for the Athletics, who also drew 17 points and six rebounds from Levi Hernandez and 12 points and 11 rebounds from Jeckster Apinan.
The Marlins dropped to 10-3 despite the 25-point explosion of YouTube sensation Kyt Jimenez, who was held to only two points in the fourth quarter.
Yvan Ludovice, whose back-to-back three-pointers pushed the Marlins to within three, 66-69, emerged with 11 points.
Meanwhile, powerhouse Nueva Ecija thumped Muntinlupa, 102-85, to stretch its unbeaten run to 15 while Rizal also boosted its quarterfinal drive with a 95-73 trouncing of Makati in the opener.
Virtually an all-star roster, the Rice Vanguards drew 18 points and nine rebounds from Will McAloney and 18 points, six rebounds and four assists from John Byron Villarias, and 14 points from Michael Juico.
Muntinlupa, which tumbled to 2-8 win-loss slate, got 18 points from John Cantimbuhan Jr., 16 from Biboy Enguio and 14 from Ivan Villanueva.