By Ivan Saldajeno
QUEZON CITY--With all the distractions it could get following a tune-up brawl with UP over the weekend, Muntinlupa still found a way to remain as the MPBL Datu Cup's only unbeaten club.
The Cagers roared back from a huge deficit to hand the San Juan Knights their first loss of the conference with a 77-71 win at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex in Muntinlupa late Wednesday night.
In the battle between the only two teams without a loss entering game day, San Juan took advantage of Muntinlupa's slow start, opening a 47-27 lead with 7:58 left in the third quarter.
However, the Cagers rallied back through a 28-8 run spanning through the early goings of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 55-all.
CJ Isit put the Knight back ahead with a three-pointer, but back-to-back baskets from Dhon Reverente and Reggie Basibas finally put the Cagers up, 59-58, with 8:01 to play, setting up a wild finish.
However, a 7-0 run helped Muntinlupa steal the win as the team went up, 74-68, with 37 seconds to play.
San Juan still threatened after John Wilson made three free throws with 31 seconds to go, but Chito Jaime sealed the deal for Muntinlupa with a dagger triple with 15 seconds left.
Allan Mangahas led the Cagers, who moved up to 5-0, with 21 points, four rebounds, five assists, and two blocks, while Jaime added 17 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and three steals.
Larry Rodriguez made 14 markers, seven boards, one dime, and five blocks for the Knights, who fell to 5-1.
In the first game, Imus continued to its newfound winning ways with an 81-71 victory over Valenzuela.
Genmar Bragais fired 20 points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal for the Bandera, who have now scored back-to-back wins and barged into the Top 8 in the Southern Division standings at 3-3.
Rocky Acidre made 14 markers, three boards, six dimes, one steal, and one block for the Classic, who dropped to 2-3.
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