MANILA, Philippines – The Zamboanga Valientes did not disappoint the hometown crowd with a wire-to-wire 102-94 victory over the Sultan Naga Dimaporo Barracudas Saturday, March 19, at the jampacked Zamboanga City Coliseum.
Powered by veteran Reed Juntilla, the Valientes bunched 17 points to surge ahead at 80-58 before coasting along in the last of a four-game bill ushering in the GlobalPort VisMin Super Cup.
Juntilla posted a game-high 27 points plus 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, followed by Jerrome Ferrer with 12 points and 7 rebounds for the Valientes.
Rising star Jeff Bernardo and former Letran Knight Jonathan Belorio contributed 9 points each while local superstar Jonathan Parreno chipped in 8 points, highlighted by back-to-back triples that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Joining Zamboanga in the winner’s circle on opening day were the CPG Bohol Dolphins, the OCCCI Ormoc Sheer Master, and KalosPh of Eastern Samar.
The Dolphins bucked the absence of Mark Yee and showed balanced firepower in defeating the Tubigon Mariners, 82-74.
Nikko Panganiban stepped up and finished with 14 points to go along with 6 boards while import Joel Gonzallo added 12 markers and 6 rebounds.
Gabby Espinas and Chebueze Ikeh, meanwhile, flexed their muscles inside the shaded lane to power OCCCI Ormoc to a convincing 90-82 win over McDavid ZamPen.
The NCAA’s first ever rookie MVP and a six-time PBA champion, Espinas pumped in 25 points on a steady 10-of-13 shooting from the field, on top of 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
Ikeh, a member of Ateneo’s champion team in the UAAP a few years ago, came away with 20 points, 22 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
KalosPh Sportswear subdued Macfi-Basilan, 66-59, with Eugene Toba producing 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
Jam-packed Zamboanga crowd
Coach Joseph Romarate was very happy with the Valientes’ performance, but cautioned his wards not to be complacent.
Former NCAA MVP Prince Eze, who serves as the Valientes’ reinforcement in the import-spiced tournament, did his part with 7 points and 7 boards.
Seraj Aldin Elmerab added 7 points for the Valientes, who are supported by philanthropist Cory Navarro in memory of her late husband sportsman Lando Navarro, and backed by Councilor Pinipin Pareja, Kap. James Siason, MLV Group of Mike Venezuela, JPS, Go for Gold and 1 Pacman Partylist through Rep. Mikee Romero.
The Barracudas drew 23 points and 13 rebounds from Jaymar Gimpayan, last year’s VisMin MVP, and 20 points plus 6 rebounds from Adrian Celada.
Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco headed the loud but disciplined crowd estimated to be over 10,000 in cheering for the Valientes. – Rappler.com