Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines bunched nine points midway through the fourth quarter and subdued Batangas City Embassy Chill, 81-74, on Tuesday in a battle between strong teams in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
Other games saw General Santos thwart Marikina, 85-80, and Pasay beat Laguna Krah Asia, 88-78.
With the count tied at 67, Dexter Maiquez sparked that Zamboanga blitz with a layup and capped it with a triple that pushed the 2023 MPBL Preseason Invitational champion ahead for good, 76-67, with 2 minutes and 26 seconds left.
All Batangas, the MPBL Anta Rajah Cup titlist, could do was narrow the gap on triples by Mark Justine Dela Virgen and Rhaffy Octobre that sandwiched a drive by Zamboanga’s king Caralipio, time down to 1:22.
Jaycee Marcelino led Zamboanga to its fifth win in six outings with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals, followed by Letran recruit Caralipio, who ended up with 18 points and 4 rebounds.
Maiquez, formerly of San Juan, finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds as Zamboanga snapped Batangas’ winning streak at five.
Batangas got 18 points and 5 rebounds from Rhaffy Octobre, 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists from Juneric Baloria and 12 points from Levi Hernandez.
The GenSan Warriors drew 26 points, including 3 triples, and 6 rebounds from John Wilson to climb to 5-0 and keep pacesetters Nueva Ecija and Quezon Province, both with 6-0 records.
Kyt Jimenez also delivered for GenSan with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals, and so did Nico Elorde and Larry Rodriguez with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Marikina, which fell to 3-3, got 18 points from Kyle Tolentino, 15 points and 15 rebounds from Jason Opiso and 15 points and 6 rebounds from Marwin Dionisio.
Pasay banked on a balanced attack to post its fourth straight win after dropping its first two.
Brandrey Bienes came through with 16 points, Laurenz Victoria posted 15 points and 11 assists and Dhon Reverente contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Voyagers, who also drew 11 points and 5 rebounds from Alejandro Inigo and 10 points from Antonio Jeffrey Coronel.
Laguna tumbled to 2-5 despite the 28-point explosion of Francis Camacho and the 15-point effort of Paolo Pontejos.
The MPBL goes to the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga on Thursday with Rizal battling Muntinlupa at 4 p.m., San Juan tackling Pasig at 6 p.m. and Valenzuela facing Pampanga at 8 p.m.