The Bataan Risers proved steadier at crunch time and prevailed over the Negros Muscovados, 67-64, on Thursday in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga.
Just when the Muscovados threatened at 57-60, Kris Torrado, Ronjay Lastimosa and Arvie Bringas combined for seven points against a lone basket by Bernie Bregondo as the Risers posted their second straight win and returned to the upper half of the standings with a 6-5 record.
In other games, Caloocan subdued Valenzuela, 83-72, and Marikina trounced Iloilo, 83-71, in the elimination round of the 29-team tournament.
Negros led most of the early part until James Castro turned hot and poured 12 points in the third quarter to push Bataan ahead for good, 56-42 and pull Negros down to 4-7.
Castro wound up with 14 points, four assists and three rebounds to earn best player honors as no other Riser was able to score in twin digits. Jethro Sombero and Robbi Darang came close with nine points each for Bataan, which trailed by as far as 15-26 midway through the second quarter.
With Jason Melano grabbing 17 rebounds and Bernie Bregondo snagging 12, the Muscovados controlled the boards, 58-41, but Bataan compensated with a pesky defense that forced Negros to commit 19 turnovers.
Negros got 20 points from Bregondo, a former Riser, 12 from Edrian Lao, 11 from Jonathan Gantalao Jr., and nine from Melano.