Viernes keys hot Batangas start
Batangas City’s spitfire guard Jeff Viernes is not making excuses for his team’s failure to defend their Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League title last season.
And Viernes has taken it upon himself to lead the Athletics, the MPBL’s inaugural season champions, in their road to redemption in the Lakan Season.
The reigning All-Star Game Most Valuable Player fired 25 points, including 18 in the second half, as the Athletics held off the Muntinlupa Cagers, 79-70, in their season opener at Batangas City Coliseum.
“We’ve remained positive,” said Viernes, acknowledging the fact that they lost to a better team in the Davao Occidental Tigers in last season’s South division finals.
“Now we’ve formed a team with one goal which is to regain the title. We don’t have any excuses for our failure last season. We lost players, but we also added players. In the end, we just fell short.”
Viernes’ take-charge mentality was on full display in the final period as he buried a three-pointer to break the game’s final deadlock for a 69-66 advantage with 3:13 remaining.
Feeding off the energy of the home crowd, Viernes found Adi Santos for a layup on the next play as Batangas finished the game with a flourish to hand coach Goldwyn Monteverde a winning start to his MPBL career.
The Athletics’ impressive debut nearly overshadowed Nueva Ecija’s stunning 78-76 triumph over Marikina.
JR Cawaling scored on a putback off a Marlon Monte miss with a second remaining.