The South division selection hit full throttle in the last quarter and trounce their North division counterparts, 109-92, in the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season late Sunday at the Batangas City Coliseum.
Trailing at halftime and up to the start of the last 10 minutes, 75-76, the South leaned on Jaycee Marcelino, Cedric Ablaza, Kyt Jimenez, and Mark Yee to turn the game around and win pulling away to keep its supremacy in the event held primarily for the fans and followers of the country’s top regional league.
Marcelino, a stalwart of Zamboanga’s Family Brand Sardines, put up 19 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds and was named MVP.
Ablaza, the main man of Batangas City Embassy Chill, wound up with 17 points, the same total posted by Jimenez, a YouTube sensation playing out of Sarangani who capped the game with a triple from way out.
Muntinlupa’s Damian Lasco paced the North with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
The South, mentored by Batangas’ Cholo Villanueva, has beaten the South, coached by Nueva Ecija’s Jerson Cabiltes, in all the league’s All-Star games thus far.
In the curtain-raiser, MPBL CEO and founder Manny Pacquiao banked in a buzzer-beater triple as the South Executives forced a 107-107 tie with their counterparts from the North.
Pacquiao, an eight-division world champion who also had a stint in the PBA, was named co-MVP with Paolo Orbeta of the North.
Pacquiao tallied 30 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal as the South clawed its way back from as many as 29 points down.
Orbeta, a former College of St. Benilde Blazer and team owner of Makati wound up with 39 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal for the North.
Other side events saw Muntinlupa’s Don Matillano nip Ronjay Buenafe, 18-17, in the 3-point shootout, and Garex Puerto of Imus rule the slam dunk competition.
Matillano and Puerto pocketed P50,000 each.
Pacquiao gave an inspirational message before the All-Star game.
After expressing his gladness that the MPBL was able to push through this year with 22 teams, Pacquiao emphasized the need to preserve the integrity of the games. Pacquiao said the league will exercise zero-tolerance as far as game-fixing is concerned.
The MPBL resumes its regular schedule on Monday with a triple-bill at the Paco Arena. The games pit Bataan against Marikina at 5 p.m., Pasig against Bacoor at 7 p.m., and Valenzuela against Quezon City at 9 p.m.