Angeles, Pampanga—Motivated by their raucous crowd here at AUF Gym, ex-pro Levi Hernandez put together his best performance in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season, Thursday night.
Hernandez dropped an MPBL career-high 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting clip, including four three-pointers, alongside four rebounds and two steals.
Most importantly, his performance helped Pampanga gut out an 81-75 conquest of the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards.
The victory improved the Giant Lanterns record to 16-9, tied for fifth spot with Bataan, and just half-a-game below fourth-place Bulacan.
“Sobrang ginanahan talaga ako kasi home court namin ito eh, nanonood ang mga taga Pampanga kaya ginawa ko lang ang best ko para makuha yung panalo,” the former Arellano standout said.
It was a long-awaited breakout performance for 25-year-old, who was drafted as the 37th overall pick in the 2016 PBA Draft.
In just the first seven minutes of the game, Hernandez had already surpassed his season average of 9.9 points, sparking the Giant Lanterns early onslaught, scoring 11 points in their 19-3 opening blast to start the game.
No one was more relieved of his performance than Pampanga head coach Bong Ramos, who made Hernandez as one of his prized recruits during the off-season.
“Lagi kong nakikita sa ensayo yung husay ni Levi. Ito yung inaabangan ko, yung maipakita niya sa laro.”
The 6-foot-1 shooter, who hails from San Luis, Pampanga, credited his extra training and work ethic for his career game.
“Lumabas na yung ineextra work ko lagi sa shooting. Kapag sa practice kasi, kahit hindi pa kami nagsstart, nageextra shooting na ako. Inapply ko lang yun sa laro ko ngayon, thankfully gumana.”
In other matchups, Batangas-Tanduay arrested its three-game slide after nipping Iloilo, 65-59, while 1Bataan-Camaya Coast stunned Manila-Frontrow, 77-76.