Baltazar records triple-double as Pampanga destroys Valenzuela

Baltazar records triple-double as Pampanga destroys Valenzuela
Justine Baltazar scored 12 points, snagged 17 rebounds and handed out 10 assists in leading the Giant Lanterns to their 12th straight win.

MANILA, Philippines – Justine Baltazar posted a triple-double as the Pampanga Giant Lanterns clobbered the Valenzuela Classics, 85-56, on Tuesday and extended their hot streak in the MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Sixth Season at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Showing why he's the reigning MPBL Most Valuable Player, Baltazar scored 12 points, snagged 17 rebounds and handed out 10 assists in leading the Giant Lanterns to their 12th straight win after an initial loss in the round-robin elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.

Encho Serrano and Rence Alcoriza pushed Pampanga ahead, 23-13, after the first quarter and the Giant Lanterns never wavered to tally the wire-to-wire victory that put the defending champions right behind the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards and the Quezon Huskers, both with 11-0 slates.

Other Giant Lanterns who shine were Jeff Viernes with 13 points and four rebounds; Jhaymo Eguilos with 11 points and nine rebounds; Archie Concepcion with 10 points like Serrano and Alcoriza; and Kurt Reyson with eight points, five assists and three rebounds.

Without the injured Dennis Santos, the Classics were overpowered off the boards, 31-56, and were outscored inside the paint, 18-48, by the Giant Lanterns.

Valenzuela tumbled to 7-7 as only Filipino-American CJ Payawal and the returning Paolo Hubalde struck back with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Payawal added five rebounds while Hubalde also notched nine rebounds and five assists.

In earlier games, Quezon City TODA Aksyon trounced Pasay, 70-60, and Davao Occidental nip Negros, 67-64.

With Rhinwill Yabing at the helm, Quezon City pulled away, 33-18, midway through the second quarter and then thwarted Pasay's repeated assaults to climb to 6-7.

Yambing finished with 15 points plus four rebounds and was supported by Jonathan Gesalem with 11 points plus two steals, and Chino Mosqueda with 10 points plus four rebounds.

Pasay, which tumbled to 7-6, got 14 points from Laurenz Victoria, 12 points plus nine rebounds from Warren Bonifacio, 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals from Patrick Sleat; and 10 points plus six rebounds from AJ Coronel.

Unlike the Giant Lanterns and the Capitals, the Davao Occidental Tigers went through a tight fight with the Negros Muscovados.

Overtaken by the Muscovados following a 9-point run, 62-62, the Tigers banked on Jun Manzo to snap a two-game skid and improved to 9-4.

Manzo drove in to give Davao back the lead, and after Negros' James Paul Una tied the count at 64, Dariel Bayla split his two charities and Manzo decided the outcome with two more free throws in the last 19.5 seconds.

Negros had a chance to force overtime, but Hubert Cani missed the probable game-extender with 6.3 seconds left.

Arth Dela Cruz led the Tigers with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists, followed by veteran Kelly Nabong with nine points and nine rebounds. Kenneth Ighalo and Biboy Enguio contributed eight points each for Davao Coach Manu Inigo.

Negros, which tasted its fifth straight defeat and tumbled to 4-10, drew 27 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals from Renz Palma;  and 11 points plus 14 rebounds from debuting recruit Buenaventura Raflores Jr.

The MPBL goes to the Villar Coliseum in Las Pinas on Wednesday with games pitting South Cotabato against Mindoro at 4 p.m., Batangas against Caloocan at 6 p.m., and Iloilo against Manila at 8 p.m.

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