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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Pampanga takes on Batangas in MPBL semis

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Pampanga and Batangas subdued their respective opponents on Saturday night and forged a semifinal clash in the 2024 MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Preseason Invitational at the Lagao Gym in General Santos City.

Showing why they are the reigning MPBL national champions, the Pampanga Giant Lanterns routed guest squad Gensan Bulalakaw, 109-75, for their third straight win and a sweep of Group B.

The Batangas City Tanduay Athletics, on the other hand, bested the Bataan Risers, 86-75, to climb to 2-1 in Group A and join South Cotabato in the crossover semifinals on Sunday.

South Cotabato, which won its three elimination round assignments, clashes with Quezon City TODA Aksyon at 6 p.m., followed by the Pampanga-Batangas tussle at 8 p.m.

Quezon City dumped Valenzuela Classic, 99-77, in the first game on Saturday to claim the second semifinal slot in Group B over its victim and the Bulalakaw team of MPBL Founder and CEO Manny Pacquiao.

Quezon City, Valenzuela and Bulalakaw finished with 1-2 slates, but Quezon City qualified with a better quotient owing to its 22-point win over Valenzuela.

Rhinwill Yambing presided over Quezon City’s victory with 24 points, 4 steals and 3 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 high-flyer from San Sebastian College was supported by Rael Are with 22 points, spiced by 5 triples, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.

Justine Baltazar, the reigning MPBL MVP, again shone for Pampanga with 15 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. He was supported by Rence Alcoriza with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, Kevin Santos with 12 points plus 9 rebounds, and Kurt Reyson with 10 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds.

Bulalakaw got 27 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks from Victor Nguidjol and 21 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals from Pacquiao.

Batangas, which crashed out of the semifinal round in last year’s edition of the tournament, was powered by Levi Hernandez with 22 points and 5 rebounds, Jeckster Apinan with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, Juneric Baloria with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, and RJ Ramirez with 11 points.

Bataan, which ended up with a 1-2 card, got 23 points and 10 rebounds from Michelle Maynes.

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