Lanterns show more cohesion in nipping Kuyas; Risers triumph
ANGELES CITY—Still working on their cohesion and chemistry, Pampanga and Bataan squeezed just enough from their star-studded lineups to arrest their losing slides in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season last Saturday night at Angeles University Foundation Gym here.
The Giant Lanterns turned to ex-PBA players Mark Cruz and Reil Cervantes to turn back North division rivals the Bulacan Kuyas, 69-63, in their first home game of the season, after the Risers pummeled the Mindoro Tamaraws, 98-88.
“I don’t know the details why we lost our last two games, but one thing I’ve noticed in our third game, we didn’t play with good chemistry in our last two games,” said Pampanga tactician Bong Ramos, whose Lanterns improved to 2-2.
“We were able to address that as we played much better on both ends of the court.”
Resurrecting his career with the Manila Stars last season before moving to Pampanga, Cervantes extended the lead to four points with a triple with 19 seconds remaining, settling the outcome of a nip-and-tuck game that saw both teams battle to 12 lead changes and eight deadlocks.
Cruz, who played for Phoenix in the PBA two seasons ago, did most of the damage midway in the fourth period, racking up five straight points and finishing with 14 points that went with 10 assists.
The Risers’ lineup also boast of former Ateneo stars Anton Asistio and Vince Tolentino and former De La Salle center Santi Santillan, raising expectations at the start of the season.
Still finding their feet under multititled PBA coach Jong Uichico, the Risers struggled to put away the Tamaraws in the first three periods, before Villarias poured eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to anchor the late breakaway.
Bulacan fell to 3-2, while Mindoro absorbed its second loss in three games.