By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Muntinlupa survived a gritty stand by Valenzuela and walked out of the Valenzuela City Astrodome with a 90-86 win in the MPBL Datu Cup on Wednesday night.
Seemed to be already stifling the Classic after the first quarter, the Cagers suddenly conceded 32 Classic points in the third period to the delight of the sold-out crowd inside the venue as the said quarter ended in a 67-all tie.
Valenzuela remained gallant down the stretch as it kept Muntinlupa, which was leading, 86-81, with 2:04 to go, from pulling away and tied the game one more time at 86-all with 46 seconds remaining.
Allan Mangahas put the Cagers back on top with a split from the foul line with 23 seconds left, although keeping the door open for the Classic to steal the win at home.
Paulo Hubalde, however, opted for a quick drive to the basket and saw his layup getting blocked by Reggie Basibas.
Chris Lalata also went 1-for-2 from the free throw stripe after a foul by Jaymar Gimpayan as Muntinlupa still kept the door open for Valenzuela to at least force overtime with 10.4 seconds remaining.
But a miscommunication in the inbound play led to the game-saving steal by Basibas, who then passed the ball to Feix Apreku for the dagger layup.
Mangahas led Muntinlupa, which moved up to 12-5, with 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, and one steal.
Apreku added a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds with four assists and one steal.
Dhon Reverente and Dave Moralde each chipped in 12 markers with the former making the said number of points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Chris De Chavez made 20 points, one rebound, and four steals for Valenzuela, which fell to 10th place in the Northern Division at 7-12.
Hubalde came close to a triple-double with 16 points, 13 assists, and eight rebounds alongside one steal and one block.
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