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Makati subdues new-look Pampanga

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Makati zoomed ahead in the Northern Division standings of the MPBL Datu Cup after pipping Pampanga on the road, 69-67, at the Angeles University Foundation Arena in Angeles on Wednesday night.

The Skyscrapers found their groove late in the third quarter before holding off the Lanterns down the stretch to go solo fifth in the North at 7-4.

Pampanga, now under Head Coach Aldrin Morante, was off to a fine start, taking a 21-16 first quarter lead.

However, Makati responded by limiting Pampanga to just 13 points in the second and scoring 26 in the third as the team entered the fourth quarter ahead, 58-54.

The scoring slowed down in the fourth quarter, but crucial back-to-back steals just inside the three-minute mark helped the Skyscrapers open a 68-62 advantage.

The Lanterns would come to within one, 67-68, and even had a chance to steal the home win after Cedrick Ablaza missed two free throws that could have iced the game, but John Rey Villanueva skied high for the offensive rebound and made a split of his own with 5.1 seconds remaining for the two-point cushion.

Jong Baloria still had a good look for his game-winning attempt from long range, but his shot rimmed out as time expired.

Jeckster Apinan collected 15 points, four rebounds, two assists, three steals, and one block, while Ablaza made 13 markers, 14 boards, and one swat for Makati.

Pari Llagas scored 15 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in his Pampanga debut.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno