Batangas and Zamboanga took different routes in moving closer to a projected clash in the finals of the South Division of the OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League 4th Season yesterday at the Mayor Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City.
The Athletics scored the first seven points and never looked back en route to a 70-60 win over Rizal while Zamboanga flirted with disaster before booking a 71-65 victory over Bacolod in the nightcap of the double-header.
With Levi Hernandez leading the offense and Juneric Baloria providing the firepower, the Athletics dictated the tempo early and thwarted the Golden Coolers’ repeated attempts to claw back.
Hernandez finished with 20 points laced with four three-pointers while Baloria and Rudy Lingganay chipped in 13 and 10 markers, respectively.
On the other hand, Rizal drew 13 points from Troy Mallilin and 10 markers from Edgar Charcos as top gunners Jolo Mendoza, Lawrenz Victoria and Keanu Caballero had a quiet night.
Bacolod came ready to fight and held the rein for 28 minutes and 39 seconds only to wilt in the home stretch as Jaycee Marcelino poured 15 points in the fourth period, including a six-point cluster that gave Zamboanga a four-point lead, 58-54.
Jhan McHale Nermal canned two charities and Jeramer Cabanag came through with a triple, giving Bacolod its last taste of the lead at 59-58.
A lay-up by Jayvee Marcelino pushed Zamboanga ahead, 60-59, before twin brother Jaycee bunched another six points to restore order.
Jaycee tallied a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds and so did Jayvee, who contributed 10 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists plus three steals.
Jhaps Bautista also chipped in 10 points for Zamboanga.
Bacolod got 14 points from Jeramer Cabanag, 12 from Alwyn Alday and 10 plus 11 rebounds from Mark Yee.
Batangas and Zamboanga will seek a sweep of their rivals on Saturday when the MPBL goes to the Batangas City Coliseum.