|Reil Cervantes and the Manila Stars pulled off a win on the road. MPBL Facebook Page File.|
By Ricky Manliguis
MANILA—Manila put some key defensive stops in the end as it turned back a valiant Zamboanga, 60-59, in the nightcap of MPBL datu Cup action at the Mayor Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City Saturday night.
With the Stars shutting down the home team’s offensive in endgame, coupled with the Valientes’ lack of mental toughness, was enough to improve them to a 10-2 record.
Reil Cervantes broke the hearts of the Zamboanga faithful with a triple with 2:03 left in the game for a 60-57 lead.
Rudy Onde and Reed Juntilla’s free throw splits kept the Family’s Brand Sardines-sponsored Valientes to within 59-60 with less than 20 seconds remaining.
But Manila's stifling defense forced Juntilla to pass off to Joemari Lacastesantos, who committed a turnover with four ticks to go.
Cervantes carved out a 21-point, seven-rebound performance for the Robust Energy Capsule-backed Stars, which tied idle San Juan atop the North Division leaderboard half a game behind the Bataan Risers (10-1). The former FEU Tamaraw also had three assists and six triples.
Kyles Lao was the other Star in double-figures with 12.
Juntilla paced the Valientes, now at 5-6, with 24 points on 11-of-14 shhoting from the field with eight boards. Jonathan Parreño came away with 13.
Manila 60— Cervantes 21, Lao 12, Cruz 8, Laude 5, Hayes 4, Dionisio 3, Bitoon 3, Sabellina 3, Arellano 1, Celada 0, Lopez 0.
Zamboanga 59— Juntilla 24, Parreño 13, Esa 5, Berame 5, Lanete 5, Onde 3, Avenido 2, De Leon 2, Rublico 0, Yasa 0, Ferrer 0, Lacastesantos 0, Castor 0.
Quarterscores:14-11. 35-22, 47-all, 60-59.