Biñan, Laguna—Mindanao teams Davao Occidental and Zamboanga conquered Laguna Thursday night as the two expansion squads hurdled their respective rivals to make a good impression in the MPBL Datu Cup.
Davao Occidental, the preseason champion in a four-team tournament held in Polomolok, South Cotabato last month, outlasted Imus, 75-71.
Also winning big was Zamboanga Valientes-Family Brand Sardines as the visiting squad blasted home team Laguna Heroes-Krah, 86-80, in the other game.
Ex-Barako Bull guard Reed Juntilla, back in the mainstream cage scene, sizzled for 30 points as the former PBL MVP held the fort for the Valientes, who also got 18 markers from former Kia player Jonathan Parreno.
Parreno added 18 markers.
Ex-pros Billy Robles, Mark Yee, Leo Najorda and Bogs Raymundo combined forces in keeping a hold on the Cocolife-backed Tigers.
Picked up from Rain or Shine in the PBA, Robles, known in the south as the “Ilonggo Superman” finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
Yee and Najorda combined for 25 markers, while Raymundo had a strong first half, contributing 10.
But it wasn’t just the Tigers’ offense which proved to be the decisive factor in the win over the GLC Truck and Equipment-backed Bandera.
Davao Occidental’s defense on Imus top gun Ian Melencio was the key to the Tigers’ win. The Bandera also didn’t get anything productive from new recruit Andre Paras, who was held scoreless in 12 minutes of action.
Despite his team’s early win, Davao Occidental coach Don Dulay wasn’t satisfied.
“I just thought we could have played better. Good thing I have some veterans, who could pull off a game for me. But like I’ve said, we’ve got a lot to work on,” said Dulay.