MPBL: Aaron Jeruta powers Bacoor past Marikina for share of early lead
MANILA, Philippines-The Bacoor Strikers showed newfound power with a 75-55 demolition of the Marikina Shoemasters late Monday and shared the lead with six others in the OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Fifth Season at the Strike Gymnasium in Bacoor City.
Spearheaded by Aaron Jeruta, the Strikers pulled away, 67-40, before cruising to their second straight win that pushed them in the company of early winners Batangas City Embassy Chill and Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines and idle teams Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Quezon Province.
Batangas was ruthless in a 104-55 dumping of Valenzuela XUR Homes Realty Inc., while Zamboanga followed suit with a 77-66 beating of Pasay Voyagers.
The Jaro, Iloilo-born Jeruta, a former Centro Escolar University standout, fired 19 points to go with 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals and was named best player in the nightcap of a triple-bill.
Jeruta was supported by Kraniel Victoria, formerly of the Arellano Univeristy Chiefs, and Chito Jayme with 10 points each and Mark Yee and Alwyn Alday with seven points apiece.
Jayme became the 15th member of the MPBL 1,000-point club and was given the ball he scored it with by MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.
Yee, on the other hand, snagged 11 rebounds as the Strikers, now under coach Alex Angeles, ruled the boards, 60-53.
Marikina fell to 1-1 despite the 19-point, 12-rebound effort of Jason Opiso as the rest of the Shoemasters cooled down after storming to a 9-0 start.
Zamboanga, out to prove that its capture of last month’s 2023 MPBL Preseason Invitationals was no fluke, banked on reigning MVP Jaycee Marcelino and prized acquisition Dexter Maiquez to pull away at 60-41 and handed Pasay its second straight defeat.
Marcelino posted 17 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block to edge Maiquez, who tallied 16 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks, for best player honors.
Other contributors for Zamboanga were Judel Fuentes, Jayvee Marcelino and Chris Dumapig with 8 points each. Dumapig also pulled down 8 rebounds as Zamboanga routed Pasay underneath, 52-36.
Pasay got 15 points from Laurenz Paul Victoria, 12 from Branrey Bienes and 11 from Dhon Reverente.
Batangas, the 2018 MPBL inaugural Rajah Cup champion, was led by Mark Justin Dela Virgen with 15 points, John Rey Villanueva with 14, Levi Hernandez with 13, Jeckster Apinan with 11 and John Ambulodto with 10 in posting the biggest winning margin thus far in the 29-team tournament.
Johnnel Rey Bauzon was the lone bright spot for Valenzuela, which dropped to 0-2, with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The MPBL returns to the Muntinlupa Sports Complex on Tuesday with another triple-bill. Iloilo clashes with Parañaque at 4 p.m., Pasig tangles with Sarangani at 6 p.m. and Manila collides with Muntinlupa at 8 p.m.