|Michael Juico led the Giant Lanterns' balanced attack. MPBL|
By Dugout Philippines
PASIG—Behind the all-around brilliance of Mark Cruz, Pampanga sealed its playoff berth after handing the also-ran Rizal-Xentro Mall a 20-point beating, 90-70, in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season at Ynares Arena Thursday.
The pint-sized Cruz stuffed the stat sheet with a triple-double of 10 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds, helping Pampanga forge a two-way tie with Bulacan in the fourth spot of the North Division with identical 18-9 win-loss cards.
Already up by 12 points entering the second half, Pampanga unleashed an 18-8 rally capped off by Reil Cervantes three-pointer to chalk up its biggest lead of the ball game at 23, 58-35, in the 3:52 mark of the third period.
Rizal was able to cut it to 12 via a Buenaventura Raflores three-pointer with 2:34 in the fourth frame, 67-79, but it’s the closest they could get as Raymond Binuya, Mark Cruz, and Dan Alberto slammed the doors with an 8-2 spurt.
“Ang target namin is to go one game at a time, try to win as much as we can hanggang matapos kasi nag po-positioning tayo e sa positioning ngayon e. Sakin, kahit sino ang makalaban namin ang importante ay gawin namin yung part namin,” said Pampanga head coach Bong Ramos.
Michael Juico spearheaded the Giant Lanterns’ offensive assault with 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field on top of eight rebounds and two assists while Levi Hernandez added 14 points.
Rizal – who dropped to a 4-21 standing also in the North Division – was led by Kelvin Gregorio with 21 points and eight rebounds. Golden Coolers team captain Mark Benitez chipped in 10 markers and five boards.
Pampanga (90) – Juico 19, Hernandez 14, Cruz 10, Cervantes 9, Maiquez 9, Baltazar 7, Binuya 7, Gomez 6, Muyang 4, Alberto 3, Acuno 2, Baltazar 0, Enriquez 0, Fabian 0, Salcedo 0
Rizal-Xentro Mall (70) – Gregorio 21, Benitez 10, Raflores 9, Hoyohoy 7, Leynes 5, Casajeros 5, Saliente 5, Bacay 3, Regalado 3, Butel 0, Raflores 0, Rosales 0
Quarterscores: 15-18, 39-27, 66-47, 90-70
Follow the site on Twitter: @DugoutPH