Pampanga rode on two scoring spurts to thwart Sarangani, 99-92, on Friday and extend its hot streak in the OKBet-MPBL (Maaharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the packed Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando.
Powered by Justine Baltazar, the Giant Lanterns greeted the first quarter with a 12-point salvo to pull away, 84-72, then bunched nine points behind Louie Sangalang and Baltazar to defuse the Marlins’ final rally, 99-86, and seal their 12th straight win in the elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.
With Jeff Viernes pouring eight of his game-high 27 points, Sarangani moved to within 84-88 and again at 86-90 on a lay-up by Alex Desoyo.
Sangalang, however, piled seven points and Baltazar added two to pull down the Marlins to their seventh loss in 14 games.
Showing why he’s the league’s leading scorer and rebounder, the 6-foot-8 Baltazar ended up with 22 points and 17 rebounds and barely missed a triple-double with nine assists. The former La Salle star and Gilas member also had three steals after more than 37 minutes of play.
Jayson Castro Apolonio supported Baltazar with 21 points, eight rebounds and two steals, followed by Kurt Reyson with 17 points and Sangalang with 13 points plus nine rebounds. Archie Concepcion also did his part with nine points and nine rebounds for Pampanga, which ruled the boards, 61-37.
Viernes posted 27 points, including six triples, eight rebounds and six assists, followed by Desoyo with 14 points and Benjie Jimenez with 13 points and eight rebounds. Sarangani also got 11 points, seven assists and six rebounds from Jefferson Comia and 10 from Rommel Calahat.