Cagers win; Bandera up as Codinera resigns
IMUS — When the game hangs for Muntinlupa Cagers, Allan Mangahas shines.
The reedy two-way guard clustered 11 points, including three straight triples, to bail the Cagers out of trouble against the pesky Rizal Crusaders, 84-80, Thursday night in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup at the people-packed Imus City Sports Complex.
It was the fourth straight win for the Angelis Resort-backed Cagers, the only unscathed team in the league after the San Juan Knights (5-0).
The Crusaders fell to 1-5.
In the nightcap, Imus Bandera rode the heroics of homegrown talent Ian Melencio to squeak past the Makati Skyscrapers, 79-76, and climb to 2-3.
With Mike Orquillas calling the shots in lieu of Jerry Codinera, who resigned due to conflict with his coaching duties with the Arellano Chiefs in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Bandera, pounced on the lethargic start of the Skyscrapers, who muffed two probable-game tying triples to drop to 4-2.
Bandera team owner Ruby Navarro confirmed the appointment of Orquillas as new head coach in a halftime TV interview with Sel Guevarra.
Melencio, a legend in local cage leagues in Cavite, fired a game-high 16 points, including five straight in the homestretch, for the GLC Truck and Equipment-backed Bandera.
Mangahas, a former star of the Mapua Cardinals and journeyman in the PBA, wound up with a game-high 23 points and nine assists and was named best player of the game for the seventh time.
Groping for form in the early going, the Cagers of Coach Aldrin Morante trailed the Xentro Mall -supported Crusaders by as many as 11 points, 30-19, in the second quarter.
The Cagers finally wrested the lead at 49-48 and padded it to 62-55 on an 8-point run by Dave Moralde and Chito Jaime, who supported Mangahas with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
Jaime added 13 boards for the Cagers, who pulled away at 82-71.
Felix Apreku, the MPBL’s top board crasher, snatched 18 rebounds and scored 13 points before fouling out with 1:13 to play and the Cagers ahead, 83-75.