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MANILA, Philippines – Pampanga scored first blood in the MPBL finals as returning Kurt Reyson starred in a 71-58 home win over Bacoor City at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando on Saturday, November 25.
Back in MPBL action after ending his campaign with the Letran Knights in the NCAA, Reyson powered the Giant Lanterns with 22 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc for a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Down 7-21 at the end of the opening frame, the Strikers got within 33-38 early in the third quarter before Reyson and Allen Liwag scored 4 points each in a crucial 15-4 run to close the period as Pampanga pulled away for good.
MVP frontrunner Justine Baltazar backstopped Reyson with 13 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals to help the Giant Lanterns 15th straight home win.
JB Bahio put up 8 points and 8 rebounds, while Michael John Garcia supplied 6 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in the victory.
Pampanga coasted to convincing win despite playing without former PBA MVP Arwind Santos.
Jhaymo Eguilos paced Bacoor with 16 points and 5 rebounds, while Jhan Nermal chimed in 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals.
The Strikers, though, severely missed the production of James Kwekuteye, who put up just 2 points on a dismal 1-of-12 shooting.
The game got halted for about 15 minutes with 28 seconds left in the third quarter after home fans threw plastic water bottles on the floor following a loose ball scramble that left Baltazar face down on the court.
Referees gave Bacoor forward Lester Reyes a disqualifying foul and Baltazar split the two free throws awarded to him for a 53-37 lead going into the final salvo.
Pampanga Governor Dennis “Delta” Pineda, who is also the Giant Lanterns’ head coach, appealed to the crowd to keep their emotions in check and the game continued. – Rappler.com