Bataan stops Cebu to take MPBL top spot
Vince Tolentino soars to help vault the Bataan Risers to the top of the MPBL standings with their eighth straight win.
MANILA, Philippines – With a 76-69 win over the Cebu City Sharks at the Ynares Center in Pasig City, the Bataan Risers claimed the top spot of the Datu Cup of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League with an 8-1 record.
After the game, the Risers broke ranks with the Manila Stars and the San Juan Knights. The Stars lost their last match to the Laguna Heroes, 72-68, to fall to 7-2 while the Knights are idle at 7-1.
Bataan took control of the match against Cebu with a huge third period where they outscored the squad from the Queen City of the south, 22-13.
Pamboy Raymundo led Bataan with 12 points while shooting guard Byron Villarias and center Jeepy Faundo each added 10 markers to the effort.
However, it was the unlikeliest of players who helped Bataan seize control of the match. Swingman Al Carlos out of the Colegio de San Sebastian in Mindoro Occidental drilled back-to-back triples in the final 50 seconds of the third period to turn a 46-45 deficit into a 51-46 lead.
Underscoring the Risers’ depth and the faith of head coach Jojo Lastimosa was Gio Espuelas who scored on a lay-up and a jumper to hike the lead to seven at the start of the fourth period.
In the final five minutes, Bataan’s bench gave way to its starters who held the lead and repulsed. Villarias, Gary David, Alfred Batino, and Pamboy Raymundo all scored but it was the latter’s huge triple with 2:09 left that gave the Risers an eight-point lead, 72-64.
Cebu battled back behind William McAloney who scored off an offensive rebound following a miss by Cesar Catli.
McAloney who was a handful all match long split his free throws, 72-67 with a minute to play after which Tolentino drilled a huge jumper to make it 74-67; time down to 44 ticks. Raymundo hit two more free throws to close out the scoring for Bataan which won its eighth straight match to take the top of the table.
Patrick Cabahug and McAloney led Cebu with 25 and 14 points, respectively.