The North selection finally won over its South counterparts, 99-91, late Saturday in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season All-Star Game at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga City.
Dominant Justine Baltazar powered North with 20 points, 23 rebounds and 6 assists to end South’s 3-edition reign and earn MVP honors.
Baltazar, who is also the regular season MVP race pacesetter, drew support from Pampanga teammate Encho Serrano with 21 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, where the South briefly held the lead, 77-74, coming from as far as 23-47 midway through the second quarter.
Roi Sumang of Nueva Ecija contributed 13 points while San Juan’s Adrian Nocum, Rizal’s John Winfred Gob and Makati’s Rob Celiz chipped in 8 points each for North coach Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda.
The smaller South selection got 18 points and 7 rebounds from John Wilson of GenSan, 16 points and 8 rebounds from reigning MVP Jaycee Marcelino of Zamboanga, 14 points plus 7 rebounds from Bacoor’s Jhan Nermal, 9 from Imus high-flyer Poypoy Actub and 8 from burly Joseph Gabayni of Zamboanga.
MPBL Founder and CEO Manny Pacquiao rewarded the North squad with P350,000 and the South selection P150,000.
The South squad beat the North, 109-84, 126-122, and 109-92 in the first stagings of the All-Star Game.
Earlier, Pacquiao posted a triple-double of 33 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds as South routed North, 114-63, in the Executives game of the event hosted by Camaya Coast through its president Goody Ilagan.
San Juan chief gunner Orlan Wamar went perfect on the second rank en route to becoming the MPBL 3-Point king, dethroning Dom Matillano of Bacolod.
Pampanga’s CJ Gania upstaged Justine Guevarra of Bulacan and crowd-favorite Poypoy Actub of Imus in the Slam Dunk competition.
MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes awarded the trophies to the winners.
The MPBL resumes its round-robin elimination round on Monday at the Paco Arena with Bacolod battling Sarangani at 4 p.m., Laguna against Batangas at 6 p.m., and Oriental Mindoro against Imus at 8 p.m.