MUNTINLUPA is unscathed no more. Manila brought it’s A-game Wednesday night and dealt the Angelis Resort-backed Cagers their first loss after going perfect for eight games, making the race to the top a lot more interesting.
Not fazed by the wildly cheering crowd supporting Muntinlupa, the Robust Energy Capsule-supported Manila went to its fast breaking game, beating the Cagers to the ground. The disparity in fast break points told it all — 32-2, a new record in the MPBL — and the Stars took pride becoming the first team to deal Muntinlupa its first loss of the season.
“We were really challenged by the fact that we were playing them in front of their hometown crowd,” said PBA Hall of Famer Philip Cezar, head coach of the Stars. “This team has a tendency of playing relaxed when playing lowly-ranked teams, but plays good when matched up against top teams.”
Manila did just that as five players ended up in double figures for the Stars led by Marvin Hayes, who finished with 18 points. Fellow ex-PBA player Reil Cervantes added 17, Chris Bitoon contributed 16, Aris Dionisio had another monsters game of 15 points and 20 rebounds. Jhygruz Laude chipped in 13.
Earlier, Pasay made it two in a row as it outlasted Imus, 79-75, in the other game.
It was only the fourth win in 11 games for the Voyagers, but it was their second straight that could somehow spark the team from moving up into the team standings in time for the playoffs.
Jan Jamon, who had a breakout game last time around, played even better this time. He tallied a career-high 27 points, including 16 in the second half. His go-ahead lay up in the last 26 seconds put the Voyagers on top, 76-75.
Pasay then made some key stops in the next two offensive trips of Imus and Yvan Ludovice, who backed up Jamon with 23, sealed the win by sinking three of four shots from the charity stripes.
After winning four in a row, the GLC Truck and Equipment-backed Bandera lost two straight and fell to a 5-5 mark. — Rey Joble